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Does Surveillance Work?

In The Lives of Others, the Academy-Award winning film of 2006, two Stasi agents monitor a theatre performance. One, looking through his binoculars, seems relieved and notes that the playwright is “our only non-subversive writer.” The other agent replies “I’d have him monitored.” And thus, the drama unfolds. The playwright is bugged, strangers follow him … Continue reading Does Surveillance Work?

The Monks who Made Europe

By Jonathan Doucette and Jørgen Møller For almost a thousand years, the Latin west (Western and Central Europe) has been fragmented in two ways: First, it has been divided into numerous competing political units; second, these units have themselves been internally divided, rulers co-existing and interacting with strong social groups such as the clergy, the … Continue reading The Monks who Made Europe

State Capacity in Historical Political Economy: What, How, Why, and Why Not?

By Mark Dincecco and Yuhua Wang Several recent Broadstreet posts have been about state capacity, including conceptualizations, historical roots, and effects. In light of this, we think that it might be helpful to briefly take stock of what the historical political economy literature has to say in response to the following four questions: 1) What … Continue reading State Capacity in Historical Political Economy: What, How, Why, and Why Not?

What I Learned from Working with Deceased Soviet Historians

Broadstreet readers may know that Jeff and Jared are editing an Oxford Handbook of Historical Political Economy. Tracy and I have committed to writing a chapter on “HPE in History and the Social Sciences” that elaborates on various earlier contributions on the relationship between these two component parts of the field. A particular focus is … Continue reading What I Learned from Working with Deceased Soviet Historians

Property Rights, Serfdom, and Institutional Divergence

Do institutions matter? Those who study them are sure they do. But others remain skeptical. When I was a graduate student, I remember having a conversation with a colleague working on early modern England. This colleague said: “The significance of institutions is more apparent to you, working on Russia, because institutional obstacles are so present … Continue reading Property Rights, Serfdom, and Institutional Divergence

Explaining Assimilation – And Thoughts on Theory and Empirics in Historical Political Economy

A portion of this blog is consistently devoted to “What can we learn?” type of posts, discussing research that uses history to understand timeless political, economic and social questions – from the effects of immigration, to those of small government and lessons for the spread of pandemics. Besides the concrete historical insights that such research … Continue reading Explaining Assimilation – And Thoughts on Theory and Empirics in Historical Political Economy

Bringing in the New Votes: Turnout of Women after Enfranchisement

Women's suffrage constitutes a major achievement for women's political emancipation and for the most part completes the process of women's incorporation into politics de jure. However, women's de facto incorporation into politics continues to be an ongoing process in virtually every country in the world. On the one hand, suffragists looked to suffrage as a … Continue reading Bringing in the New Votes: Turnout of Women after Enfranchisement

Identity and State Capacity: Religious Discrimination in Late-imperial Russia

Scholars of state capacity and ethnic politics rarely talk to each other. Yet ethnic identity plays an important role in the development of state institutions, as highlighted in a number of recent posts.[1] In a brand-new World Politics article,[2] I contribute to the scholarship on the relationship between ethnic identity and state building by highlighting … Continue reading Identity and State Capacity: Religious Discrimination in Late-imperial Russia