CHOPE Fellow 2018 Julie Mell

Julie Mell is an economic historian and an associate professor at neighboring North Carolina State University. She was attracted to the Center for the History of Political Economy because of “the opportunity it offered to engage with a community of scholars also working on the history of economic thought….The most rewarding and enjoyable parts of my experience are the long hours in the library devoted to research interspersed with the formal and informal meetings with the other fellows in the lively seminars and workshops.” 

During her time as a CHOPE Fellow, Julie’s work focuses on three German-Jewish émigré women, who were economic historians or political theorists:  Selma Stern, Hannah Arendt, and Toni Oelsne. She plans to complete two articles on these women:  “The Economic Thought of Hannah Arendt: A Critical Appraisal of the Court Jew, the Jewish banker and the Jewish Economic Function, 1920 – 1950” and “Gender, Economic Liberalism, and Antisemitism: Selma Stern, Hannah Arendt, Toni Oelsner and the Dialectics of Exclusion,” as well as begin an edition of Toni Oelsner’s work.  .  

Julie explains her focus this way, “These women figure prominently in the post-World War II transmission and transformation of a discourse on Jews, economy, and politics, which entered academic literature through members of the German Historical School of Political Economy.  This discourse continues to influence economists, historians and other social scientists, though its foundational assumptions are outdated and questionable. Stern, Arendt, and Oelsner were all instrumental in translating the discourse from the German- to the English-speaking academy and were important in transforming it.” 

 Emerging from these articles will be a critique of the economic and historical preconceptions about Jewish economic proclivity: “My critique contributes to recent discussions of antisemitism and other prejudices in the works of economists by providing a broader context that incorporates philosemitic works.”