Christina Laskaridis, 2018-19 HOPE Center Fellow

Christina Laskaridis brings a multidimensional perspective to her scholarly work, drawing on her previous engagement with the world of NGOs and policy.

“It was the euro crisis that really put me on my current intellectual track, trying to understand the tools that organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund use to guide their lending and assess a country’s debt,” Christina says.

An economics PhD candidate at SOAS, or the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, Christina is examining the economist’s toolbox and how it evolved over the decades. “It really shapes policy discussions and I’m wondering how the changing and often divergent currents of economic thinking affect the tools, indicators and templates.”

In addition to finishing her dissertation, Christina is one the historians of economics helping to produce the podcast Ceteris Never Paribus. The podcast arose from a group of scholars who were organizing academic events. She says that an interview with Tom Stapleford was especially influential. Tom’s approach to the history of economics as a history of practices “made a big mark on us, seeing history not through disembodied ideas but through people, sites, institutions.”

“It always seemed odd to me to study ideas in the abstract,” Christina says. “You need to see concepts and ideas as part of the circumstances that made them possible.”

It is those circumstances that Christina hopes to uncover and reconstruct through archival work. While at Duke, she is studying the papers of the Italian-American economist and Nobel Prize winner Franco Modigliani (1918-2003), the work of Nobel Prize winner Peter Diamond, and the papers of the Russian-American economist Evsey Domar (1914-1997). The sets of papers are in the Economists’ Papers Archive here at Duke, in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. She is also working with off-site archives, those of the UN, the IMF, and the World Bank.

Christina’s path to the Center was fortuitous. In the course of her research, she kept coming upon citations to work in History of Political Economy. She finally had to see what the journal was all about, and that led her to discover and attend the Center’s Summer Institute in 2017.

Durham, she says, is very enriching for what feels like a small place. “And at Duke and the Center, I have here what is hard to get elsewhere: an excellent intellectual environment with a group of people in the same field, even if with different subject matters and different approaches to the problems we are studying."