Centre for Development Economics
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics


Does (studying) history matter?


Prof. Anirban Mukherjee
Calcutta University


22nd November 2018 (Thursday) at
12:00 PM to 1:00 PM
2:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Venue: Seminar Room (First Floor)
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics

All are cordially invited

Undergraduate students of economics in India grow up bearing a peculiar relationship with history. It is often seen (and also, taught) as some kind of descriptive, information cramming course void of any analytical structure. Economic history courses are often shrugged off as non-economics — an unnecessary but unavoidable part of the undergraduate economics curriculum.  While economic history is neglected in the undergraduate curriculum, it remains altogether absent in most (if not all) of the postgraduate curriculums in India. It is therefore not surprising that when students enter Ph.D. programs in India and subsequently, choose academics as their career, doing research on economic history does not appear as a real option. The current lectures plan to meet this gap by discussing some papers on economic history, which shed light on some of the most fundamental questions of economics, in particular, development economics. Besides other things, these papers showcase the intense use of analytical structures and rigorous empirical methods. There are two types of papers we will be focusing on these lectures. In one strand of literature, authors enquire how incidents happened in the past (e.g. colonization, missionary expeditions, post-colonial partition) continue to affect present outcomes, while in the second strand, they analyze how historical variables affected outcomes in the past (e.g. effect of railway expansion in colonial India on early developments of market). Both these lines of inquiry help us understand the fundamentals of the economic development process. Besides existing literature, we will also discuss some of the open research questions in the context of Indian economic history.

Hopefully, the lectures will encourage the budding scholars to undertake research projects on economic history in the future.

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