The conference «The role of history and diversity in understanding development» will take place in Moscow on 9-10 October 2015. The conference is co-organized by the Centre for the Study of Diversity and Social Interactions (CSDSI, New Economic School, Moscow) and the Centre for Research in Economic Development (CRED, University of Namur).
The purpose of the conference is to bring together scholars, mostly economists, with a goal of highlighting and illustrating how knowledge of history and diversity can be pivotal for a proper understanding of development opportunities and constraints in presently poor countries. The objective is not only to address the question as to how the distant past of a country influences its present-day opportunities for growth and development (the 'path dependence' approach), but also to examine how the historical experience of economically advanced countries can provide lessons for the developing countries of today. Raising the latter question does not imply adherence to a simplistic unilinear and unidimensional view of long-term development. It rather suggests that there exists an intermediate position between the 'one-size-fits-all' approach to development and an idiosyncratic approach that overemphasizes the particular features of countries. If the pitfalls of the first polar approach are well-known to development economists and scholars from other social sciences, the challenges of the second polar approach are less obvious. The objective of the planned conference is to help bridging the gap between historians and development economists, and to make a strong case for reintroducing history as a field of knowledge in development economics curricula.
The Journal of Development Economics, under the editorial responsibility of Nathan Nunn, has agreed to consider papers presented at the conference for publication in a special issue. The normal reviewing procedures will be followed to ensure the high quality of the issue. The Journal has also agreed to publish the comments on the selected papers.