The Future of the History of Economics

The Future of the History of Economics. 2002. Edited by E. Roy Weintraub. Supplement to volume 34 of HOPE. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

"Will Economics Ever Have a Past Again?," by E. Roy Weintraub (pp. 1–14). The history of economics might be nurtured and tied to many interesting communities, but it has no real loving home.

Part 1. North American Issues

"Sitting on a Log with Adam Smith: The Future of the History of Economic Thought at the Liberal Arts Colleges," by Bradley W. Bateman (pp. 17–34). The history of economic thought is alive and well in the hundreds of small liberal arts colleges in the United States.

"Graduate Studies in the History of Economic Thought," by Ted Gayer (pp. 35–61). There is little training of PhD students in the history of economics and little indication that more will occur anytime soon.

"The History of Economics as a Subdiscipline: The Role of the History of Economics Society Meetings," by John B. Davis (pp. 62–76). Academic social factors have changed the character and practice of the history of economics, particularly through the medium of the HES meetings.

Part 2. International Issues

"The Future of the History of Economic Thought in Britain," by Roger E. Backhouse (pp. 79–97). Although the picture is gloomy on the surface, there are economics departments that still value HET, and there are other disciplines that are now turning their attention to it.

"Economics as History of Economics: The Italian Case in Retrospect," by Maria Cristina Marcuzzo and Annalisa Rosselli (pp. 98–109). The present practice of doing economics must be thoroughly questioned as part of an effort to secure a place for the history of economics.

"The Present Situation of the History of Economic Thought in France," by Ghislain Deleplace (pp. 110–24). The strength of the history of economics in France can be explained by the way economics in France repudiated its past insularity and opened itself to foreign influences.

"Reflections on the Past and Current State of the History of Economic Thought in Germany," by Bertram Schefold (pp. 125–36). Although the outlook for the future of the history of economics in Germany is not bad, the demand that a young historian be equally at home in another speciality such as economic theory is a serious worry

"The History of Economic Thought in Spain and Portugal: A Brief Survey," by José Luís Cardoso (pp. 137–47). In Spain and Portugal, there has been a profound renewal in the way in which the history of economic thought is produced.

"A Brief History of History of Economic Thought Teaching in the Netherlands," by Albert Jolink and Mark Blaug (pp. 148–53). If the history of economic thought is to survive in the Netherlands, it will be because it is an approach rather than a discipline, a "history of economic thought of something" rather than a Dogmengeschichte.

"The History of Economic Thought in Australia and New Zealand," by John Lodewijks (pp. 154–64). Historians of thought are most vulnerable to cuts in staff positions, and survival will dictate that those interested in the craft need to have strong skills in other areas of economics.

"History of Economics in Japan: A Turning Point," by Aiko Ikeo (pp. 165–75). Japanese historians need to start regarding their subject as something other than a subtype of Western studies and pay more attention to contemporary economics.

Part 3. Publication and Research

"The Future of Publication in the History of Economic Thought: The View from HOPE," by Craufurd D. Goodwin (pp. 179–89). The history of economics is constructively seen as serving several markets, and if historians continue to write only for themselves, the field probably cannot sustain itself.

"Heaven Can Wait: Gatekeeping in an Age of Uncertainty, Innovation, and Commercialization," by Steven G. Medema, José Luís Cardoso, and John Lodewijks (pp. 190–207). Historians can chart their own course by confronting the challenges posed by the relationships that journals have with authors, readers, and publishers.

"Coming Together: History of Economics as History of Science," by Margaret Schabas (pp. 208–25). The history of economics might survive if it is treated as a branch of the history of science rather than as a servant to current economic analysis.

"A Hunger for Narrative: Writing Lives in the History of Economic Thought," by Evelyn L. Forget (pp. 226–44). Historians should respond to the demand for captivating biographies, using all of the tools available to create good, rich tales.

"Surfing the Past: The Role of the Internet in the Future of the History of Economics," by Ross Emmett (pp. 245–60). Significant steps have been taken in integrating Internet technologies into the common working practices of historians of economics, especially regarding scholarly correspondence and bibliographic research.

Part 4. The Next Generation

"Confusion and 'Interstanding': A Figured Account of Hope," by Matthias Klaes (pp. 263–71). The entrance of a young scholar into the history of economics is characterized by a constant search for its identity, disciplinary allegiance, and institutional affiliation.

"The Interesting Narrative of a Duke-Trained Historian of Economics, from Prospectus to Ph.D. to Profession; or, How I Learned to Love Weintraub and Start Worrying," by Stephen Meardon (pp. 272–83). The choice between Whig history and thick history is an aesthetic and moral one, and grappling with the choice can point to new possibilites and new audiences.

"So You Want to Be a Historian of Economics? Reflections of a Recent Recruit," by Esther-Mirjam Sent (pp. 284–97). A creative account of the author's entrance into the field ends with a cautionary note about the threat of litigation to the historian.

"Once and Future Historians: Notes from Graduate Training in Economics," by Derek S. Brown and Shauna Saunders (pp. 298–308). PhD students often have to conceal their interest in the history of economics as a response to the characterization of history as extracurricular and a potential job market liability.

"Reflections on the Tales of the Next Generation," by Evelyn L. Forget (pp. 309–16). Historians in economics PhD programs operate under several myths that should be deconstructed using the tools of the historian.

Part 5. Heterodox Traditions

"History of Economic Thought in the Post-Keynesian Tradition," by Sheila C. Dow (pp. 319–36). The history of economic thought in post-Keynesian economics cannot be fit into dualistic categories or separated from economics itself.

"The Use and Abuse of the History of Economic Thought within the Austrian School of Economics," by Peter J. Boettke (pp. 337–60). Historians of economics should value both the producers and consumers of intellectual history, for the value of historical knowledge lies in the ability to identify intellectual profit opportunities.

"The Marxist Tradition in the History of Economics," by Anthony Brewer (pp. 361–77). Marx wanted to develop his own theory, place it in a favorable light, and provide it with a good pedigree—as do his followers, be they Marxists per se or simply writers in the Marxist tradition.

Afterword: "A Pall along the Watchtower: On Leaving the HOPE Conference," by Philip Mirowski (pp. 378–90). The germane questions from the conference are, Who has paid for economics? Who might pay for history of economics?