From June 22 through June 26, 2015, the Hoover Institution Library & Archives brought together scholars from across the globe for its second annual Workshop on Political Economy. Organized by Stanford history professor Jennifer Burns, the workshop invites researchers from diverse fields to study the history of economic thought using the archives of such notable thinkers as Karl Popper, Milton Friedman, and F.A. Hayek. Participants spent the week pursuing individual research projects in the Hoover reading room and participating in daily roundtables and discussions dedicated to expanding interdisciplinary conversations surrounding economics, political theory, and history. This year, renowned Duke University historian of economics Bruce Caldwell delivered the second annual keynote speech, dedicated to the life and works of economist F.A. Hayek, whose papers are held at the Hoover Library & Archives. Hoover Library & Archives displayed newly acquired Hayek materials to accompany the lecture.
The 2015 Workshop on Political Economy included both early and late career scholars who are leaders in their respective fields. Jamie Martin, a PhD candidate from Harvard University, reflected on his workshop experience, saying that “All of these collections yielded good material; some of them were really fantastic. Of particular use was consulting with other researchers at the workshop on what they were finding and exchanging boxes of mutual interest. It was a wonderful program.” Evaluating the collaborative nature of the week, University of Pennsylvania assistant professor of history Amy Offner commented, “It was great to begin work on a new project in such a lively and supportive group.”
2015 Workshop on Political Economy Participants
Philip Benesch (Lebanon Valley College) is an associate professor of politics and faculty director of scholarships and fellowships at Lebanon Valley College, where he also teaches courses in American government, political philosophy, and public law. He has a particular interest in the intersection of law and normative philosophy; his research examines aspects both of Socratic and of modern democratic theory. He has written on the epistemology and political thought of the Austrian thinker Karl Popper. Benesch serves as the prelaw adviser for the college and is author of The Viennese Socrates: Karl Popper and the Reconstruction of Conservative Politics. During the workshop he examined correspondence and unpublished work held in Popper’s papers.
Rebeca Gomez Betancourt (University of Lyon) is an associate professor of economics at the University of Lyon in France. Her research interests lie in the history of monetary thought in the Americas during the twentieth century. Betancourt received a master's and doctoral degree at the University of Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne. In her master's thesis, “The Monetary Thought of Friedrich von Hayek in the Thirties: Theory of Cycles and Neutral Currency,” Betancourt examined aspects of the Austrian economist's thought that exerted a large influence in Latin America. Her research on Edwin Walter Kemmerer, an economist who created five central banks in Latin America during the twenties, led her to discover the major role Kemmerer played both in the development of North American monetary thought and in the management of US currency within US colonies and spheres of influence. While at Stanford, she began work on the history of Milton Friedman’s monetary framework.
Kevin Brookes (Université of Grenoble) is currently writing a PhD thesis on the spread of classical liberalism in French politics since the 1970s. He is focusing on the sociology of the transnational circulation of ideas through think tanks and international organizations such as the Mont Pèlerin Society. Combining an historical and sociological approach, the main aim of his research is to understand how a free market set of ideas circulated from an American academic and intellectual context to a French one. At the Hoover Archives, Brookes consulted the Mont Pèlerin Society Records and the papers of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. These collections will allow him to analyze the transatlantic crossings of ideas that occurred during this period of intense intellectual exchanges among international classical liberal thinkers.
Jennifer Burns (Stanford University, workshop convener) is a 2014-15 national fellow at the Hoover Institution and an assistant professor of history at Stanford University, where she teaches courses on modern US history, religious history, and intellectual history. Her research focuses on intellectual, political, and cultural history, with a particular interest in ideas about the state, markets, and capitalism and how these play out in policy and politics. At Stanford, Burns has been involved in a number of new initiatives, including serving as a faculty adviser to the Approaches to Capitalism Workshop at the Stanford Humanities Center, cofounding the Bay Area Consortium for the History of Ideas in America, and consulting with the Hoover Institution Archives on new acquisitions in American political history. Her first book, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, was an intellectual biography of the libertarian novelist Ayn Rand. She is currently writing a book about Milton Friedman, using his papers held at the Hoover Archives.
Brent Cebul (American Academy of Arts and Sciences) is completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Beginning in September 2015, he will be the Mellon Postdoctoral Research Scholar in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond. He received his PhD in US history from the University of Virginia, where he was also a Miller Center Dissertation Fellow. He continues to serve as an associate fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture where he is the associate director of the program on Culture, Capitalism, and Global Change. His current book manuscript, Developmental State: Business, Poverty, and Economic Empowerment from the New Deal to the New Democrats, is under contract with the University of Pennsylvania Press for inclusion in its series, Politics and Culture in Modern America. At the workshop, Cebul began research for a new project on popular economic ideas.
Jo Guldi (Brown University) is an assistant professor of history at Brown University. Born in Dallas, Texas, she received her AB from Harvard University, and then studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, before completing her PhD in history at the University of California, Berkeley, after which she continued on to postdocs at the University of Chicago and the Harvard Society of Fellows. Guldi specializes in the history of capitalism, land use, and the design of computational tools for visualizing large numbers of texts, for instance, Paper Machines, released in 2012 with the collaboration of Christopher Johnson-Roberson. She is the author of Roads to Power and The History Manifesto. During the workshop she conducted research for her third book, a global study of land reform entitled The Long Land War.
Jamie Martin (Harvard University) is a PhD candidate from Harvard University. His dissertation, entitled “Governing the World Economy: Economic Expertise and the Reshaping of Global Order, 1916-1948,” investigates the origins of the first international efforts to study and manage the world economy in the early twentieth century. It looks at how these schemes emerged during a period of crisis between the end of the First World War and the outbreak of the Second, focusing on the economic projects of the League of Nations and the International Labour Office. Specifically, Martin looks at how an international network of economic experts—working in the United States, Europe, and Asia—drew up the earliest plans for bringing the world’s capitalist economy under international bureaucratic control. Drawing on archival research from across Europe and the United States, Martin argues that these plans, while unsuccessful in the short term, laid important intellectual and institutional foundations for the reshaping of global order after the Second World War. He consulted numerous collections during the workshop, including the Herbert Hoover Subject Collection, Gottfried Haberler Papers, and Edwin Gay Papers.
Amy C. Offner (University of Pennsylvania) is an assistant professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in twentieth-century US, Latin American, and transnational history. Her forthcoming book, Sorting Out the Mixed Economy, analyzes Cold War antipoverty programs, social conflict, and economic thought in the United States and Colombia. The project is both a transnational history of social policy and a social history of economic thought. Offner has been a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for the United States and the Cold War within NYU’s Tamiment Library and has received fellowships and grants from institutions including the American Council of Learned Societies, the Social Science Research Council, the Inter-American Foundation, the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, and the Duke University Center for the History of Political Economy. She used the Hoover Archives to begin researching a new project on corporate governance, The Postwar Transformation of Industrial Ownership and Management.
Marc Palen (University of Exeter) is a Lecturer in Imperial History at the University of Exeter and editor of the Imperial & Global Forum. He is also a research associate in US foreign policy at the US Studies Centre, University of Sydney. He specializes in the history of US foreign policy, the British empire, and globalization. His publications include his forthcoming book The “Conspiracy” of Free Trade: The Anglo-American Struggle over Empire and Economic Globalization, 1846-1896 (Cambridge University Press) and articles in Diplomatic History, The Historical Journal, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, The Journal of the Civil War Era, and The Journal of the History of Economic Thought. He has also written historical commentary for The New York Times, History Today, and The Australian, among others. He came to Hoover to research his next book, Pax Economica: The Global Struggle for Free Trade and Peace, 1896-1946.
Alastair Su (Stanford University) is a graduate student in Stanford’s history department. His research interests are in the history of capitalism in the United States during the turn of the twentieth century, where he focuses on how economic ideas and arguments are used in the public sphere, and conversely, how conceptions of the public are, in turn, influenced by economic change. This summer, he will carry out research in the Hoover Archives on a project concerning monetary policy, inflation and public memory during the New Deal, investigating how prominent economists such as William John Fellner and Milton Friedman understood monetary theory and the role of the Federal Reserve. He hopes his research this summer will serve as a starting point for a dissertation project on the political economy of central banking in the early twentieth century.
Alden Young (Drexel University) is an assistant professor of African history at Drexel University and the director of Drexel’s Africana Studies program. At Drexel, Young teaches courses on African history, economic history, and the history of Arab and African interactions. He completed his PhD in 2013 in history at Princeton University. His dissertation is entitled "Accounting for Decolonization: The Origins of the Sudanese Economy, 1946 - 1964." His current research is focused on the history of development planning in the territory that became Sudan, as a lens to look at the interplay of decolonization, economic development, and the process of state formation in post-World War II Africa. He is also working on a book project titled Sudan by the Numbers: The Financial Engineering of Independence. During the workshop he used the Sudanese Subject Collection and back issues of the rare periodical The Sudanese Economist.