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Paintings, Persecutions, and Political Development

by Noel Johnson and Mark Koyama A Mysterious Masterpiece Among the paintings in the Royal Collection of the British Monarchy is a winter scene by Pieter Bruegel the Elder titled ``The Massacre of the Innocents''. As often is the case with Bruegel, it is a masterful recasting of a traditional theme into a contemporary setting. … Continue reading Paintings, Persecutions, and Political Development

The Small World of Corporations and the Corporate Elite in American History

It has been more than a decade since the Supreme Court ruled on the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which upheld the principle that independent campaign financing is protected as a form of free speech.  As Temple law professor David Kairys describes, what made the decision so contentious was that not only … Continue reading The Small World of Corporations and the Corporate Elite in American History

Finding Historical Data IV: A Post with Cool Maps

Update: Thanks to our enthusiastic readers, I've update the post to include a new paper on Economic Maps, and a great data viz using WWII maps from the LOC (that was made after seeing this post!) When we think of collecting data from archives, we are typically thinking of collecting data from books that are … Continue reading Finding Historical Data IV: A Post with Cool Maps

Culture, Institutions, and Economic Divergence

I have already posted a few times on here about the interaction between culture and institutions in history. So forgive me for indulging again. Most of my career I have focused on this interaction. At the broadest level, I have long been interested in why some societies have been relatively successful economically and others have not. … Continue reading Culture, Institutions, and Economic Divergence

Why War Didn’t Make the Chinese State

War made the state, as Charles Tilly famously argued. This bellicist explanation is still the dominant theory of state formation. Even scholars who claim to have challenged it prove its applicability in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, where there were no (large-scale) wars and no state building. War seemed to have contributed to ancient state … Continue reading Why War Didn’t Make the Chinese State

Technological shocks and democratic politics- BFF or frenemies?

From the invention of the plough to the world wide web, technology has transformed economic, political, and social arrangements. The impact of technological change on wages and inequality have been well documented. But how do studies in historical political economy inform our understanding of the relationship between technological shocks and politics? Recent works by scholars … Continue reading Technological shocks and democratic politics- BFF or frenemies?

Jury Trials, Impeachment and Otherwise

A pretty major trial concluded on Saturday in the US Senate, as you might have heard. Despite a 57-43 majority voting to convict President Trump, he was officially acquitted, the Senate requiring a two-thirds majority in impeachment trials. The reality that a simple majority in the Senate isn’t enough to get something passed (most of … Continue reading Jury Trials, Impeachment and Otherwise

How Social Science History Changes Our View of the Ancient World: A Conversation with Josiah Ober

Growing up in Greece and having a love for history, I more than once considered pursuing classical studies. After my undergraduate degree, I even enrolled for one semester in the department of History and Archaeology of the University of Athens. But attracted by the breadth and the claims to generalizability of social science studies, I … Continue reading How Social Science History Changes Our View of the Ancient World: A Conversation with Josiah Ober