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(Re)thinking Medieval and Early Modern Economic History

A reading group at the Centre for Medieval Studies

In recent decades, medieval economic history has increasingly become a narrow specialised field, ignored by the majority of historians. Medievalists tend to see economic history as simultaneously too difficult and too boring. As a result, the majority of ‘big questions’ related to the long history of socio-economic structures and relations have been monopolised by economists and political scientists. This often means that economic history loses its meaning and purpose as an academic discipline and is simply used to illustrate contemporary theories in economics. We believe that economic history needs to be renewed and rethought, which requires careful theoretical and empirical work. The goal of our reading group is to begin this project, focusing on medieval and early modern economic history in general and the history of debt in particular.

The group is open to everyone, independently of academic status, age and specialization. Every two or three weeks we meet to discuss a recent book relevant to medieval or early modern economic history, broadly understood. Our discussions are organised through the round-robin method: everyone speaks for 2-3 mins, no one interrupts or speaks out of their turn (but one can also miss their turn). Then a new round begins. In our experience, this format helps to mitigate usual hierarchal dynamics typical of academic events.

If you are interested in the group and would like to join it, please, get in touch with us at malexandrova@hse.ru and iafanasev@hse.ru.

Ilya Afanasyev and Maria Aleksandrova