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The persistence of identity

In August 1990, the Prime Minister of India, Vishwanath Pratap Singh, made a historic speech to implement affirmative action to lower castes in central government jobs and higher education -- domains that had long been dominated by upper-castes.  The speech, that came be known as "Mandal", was the start of a profound realignment in Indian … Continue reading The persistence of identity

Life and Death During the Transition Depression

The New York Times published an interesting pair of reports on Tuesday. The first related a recent study in Health Affairs that documents a staggering, and unexpected, decline in hospital admissions since the arrival of COVID in the United States earlier this year. With the important exception of those areas where COVID infections are spiking, … Continue reading Life and Death During the Transition Depression

Archival Silences and Historical Political Economy

Pandemics are political, as Alexandra Cirone highlighted in an earlier post. Motivated by the numerous examples of official corruption during the COVID-19 crisis, Francisco Garfias and I decided to investigate how epidemics shaped the potential for rent extraction and the value of holding office in colonial Mexico. This required us to construct a dataset of … Continue reading Archival Silences and Historical Political Economy

Quantitative Social Science and the Holocaust

History is replete with violence, which casts a long shadow on contemporary attitudes, behavior, and institutions, as covered in our earlier posts. The Holocaust is the largest single episode of mass violence in the 20th century. It is also one of the most “data-rich” genocides, and the number of books, articles, and films that deal … Continue reading Quantitative Social Science and the Holocaust

The Great Northward Migration and Social Transformation, Part II

The Great Migration reached its peak in the years between 1940 and 1970, when decadal outmigration rates from the US South among Blacks surpassed 10%. During the same period, the long-standing struggle of African Americans to end racial discrimination was consolidated into a massive social movement. The civil rights movement grew in intensity during the … Continue reading The Great Northward Migration and Social Transformation, Part II

Using Network Analysis to Identify Common Geographies

Following up on the discussion in my previous entries, this week’s post focuses on what do when working with spatial data where the boundaries of the units change over time.  This is a familiar problem for those of doing quantitative history.  In the absence of the type of individual-level data that has become commonplace in … Continue reading Using Network Analysis to Identify Common Geographies

Racial-Political Violence in Historical Perspective

In October of 2020, 12 white militia members were arrested for a plot to kidnap the Governor of Michigan.  These white men were planning to ambush the duly-elected head of government for a US state since, in their opinion, she had violated their rights.  The media spun with tales of how shocking this event was—that … Continue reading Racial-Political Violence in Historical Perspective

Finding Historical Data II

This week’s post turns once again to practical matters, and continues our series on “how to find historical data.” The first post in the series covered online dataverses, while today’s post will look at sources of digitized data provided by libraries. National libraries are increasingly scanning documents in their collections and providing them online for … Continue reading Finding Historical Data II