CHOPE Fellow 2018-19 Rafael Galvão Almeida

Rafael Galvão Almeida is a PhD student at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil. His journey to the Center for the History of Political Economy began in his undergraduate years when he became interested by F. A. Hayek’s notion of spontaneous order: “I wanted to study it more and I decided to compare with Karl Polanyi’s concept of double movement. It amazed me how the two things were similar and that what made me interested in the history of economic thought—I could study how economists developed their ideas!” Now, he is studying the formation of the new political economy as a discipline that explores how economists have used economic tools to study politics.

Rafael’s research, however, has lead him to recognize that the hotly contested label new political economy is also highly problematic: “Many economists of different schools and approaches claim that ‘we’re doing new political economy’ and tend to disregard other people who also claim the same thing.” One of Rafael’s goals is to sharpen his own definition of the term and, in the process, clear up some common misunderstandings that are obstacles to the development the discipline. To accomplish this, Rafael will make use of the frequent discussions among the diverse fellows and faculty that characterize life at the Center.

Rafael’s focus at the Center is to study how Douglass North—as the director of a political economy center at Washington University at St. Louis—helped develop a community of researchers. He managed to get economists and political scientists to study political problems using the rational agent theory. The collection of Douglass North’s papers in Duke’s Economists’ Archives offers unique opportunities to explore North’s work.