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Tilly Goes to Church: The Medieval and Religious Origins of the European State

How did the state arise in Europe? The canonical answer is Charles Tilly’s: “war made the state and the state made war.” The starting point is the fragmentation of territorial political authority in Europe after the collapse of the Carolingian empire in 888, and the ambitions of rulers in the early modern (1500-1700) era. To … Continue reading Tilly Goes to Church: The Medieval and Religious Origins of the European State

Historical Subsistence Strategies and Culture

The link between the climate and culture has been examined in a variety of contexts.  A recent post by Volha Charnysh discusses various examples, such as the relationship between seasonality and the adoption of agriculture (Matranga, 2019), climatic risk and cooperation (Buggle and Durante, 2021), and exposure to adverse natural shocks and religiosity (Bentzen, 2019). … Continue reading Historical Subsistence Strategies and Culture

LATE for history and other stories

By Alberto Bisin and Andrea Moro Persistence studies in Historical Economics document the persistence of some historical phenomenon and often leverage this persistence to identify causal relationships of interest in the present. They constitute a sizeable component of Historical political economy and, more generally, of Historical economics: about 10%, according to Cioni et al. (2021)’s … Continue reading LATE for history and other stories

Borderlands and Antisemitism in Weimar Germany: Evidence from Children’s Stories

Growing up in the Zaanstreek, a green and water-rich suburban part of the Netherlands, best known for its windmills, I spent a lot of time playing outdoors.  A reoccurring concern for my parents was that I would not make it back in time for dinner or get lost altogether. To make sure I would not … Continue reading Borderlands and Antisemitism in Weimar Germany: Evidence from Children’s Stories

Will American Democracy Reach Retirement Age?

The recent Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee decision by the Supreme Court is, to me, the sharpest nail yet in the coffin for the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  While the much-discussed Shelby v. Holder decision severely weakened the ability of the federal government to block restrictive voting measures before they are enacted, the most … Continue reading Will American Democracy Reach Retirement Age?

The Missionary Roots of Nationalism?

In the era of European colonialism, Christian missionaries spread to practically every corner of the globe. By 1900, they had evangelized 700 million people, nearly half the world population. The conventional wisdom in the social science literature is that Protestant missionaries spread literacy and democracy. The argument is straightforward: Protestant missionaries founded thousands of schools … Continue reading The Missionary Roots of Nationalism?

The Persistence of Historical Persistence

Today I’m going to talk about an annual review that Tom Pepinsky and I are doing, on historical persistence! We have a draft up on SSRN (comments welcome!), but I’ll discuss some of the highlights here — Broadstreet readers might be particularly interested in the recent publication statistics for historical persistence papers. Tom and I … Continue reading The Persistence of Historical Persistence

The Study of the State: A Brief Intellectual History

Almost 20 years ago, Margaret Levi wrote an essay titled “The State of the Study of the State,” which was published in Political Science: The State of the Discipline (edited by Ira Katznelson and Helen Milner). In the essay, Levi reviewed the booming literature on state formation and state building, but also noticed that “After … Continue reading The Study of the State: A Brief Intellectual History

What can we learn from Britain’s laissez-faire experiment?

What can we learn from Britain’s laissez-faire experiment? Guest post by W. Walker Hanlon, NYU Stern. In the nineteenth century, Britain undertook the boldest experiment in small government ever attempted by an industrialized and technologically advanced country. This experience has had an enormous intellectual influence. It shaped the views of, among others, Karl Marx, Friedrich … Continue reading What can we learn from Britain’s laissez-faire experiment?

The Demand for Extra-Local Forms of Dispute Resolution

Excerpt from a Set of Communal Resolutions, 1744

Formal mechanisms for the enforcement of property rights and the resolution of disputes are thought to be essential to long term economic development and political stability. But how do these get established and what makes people in a society willing to use them? More recent attempts to create such mechanisms in places like post-Soviet eastern … Continue reading The Demand for Extra-Local Forms of Dispute Resolution