Panel V: Justification Narratives in Economics

November 14, 2009, 14.00 – 16.00, Hörsaal-Zentrum – HZ 3

Within the framework of the Cluster, social anthropology is concerned with the assimilation of Western norms by different cultures. In examining these processes, the social actors and their reasons for adopting or rejecting Western norms are always the chief focus of attention. These justifications are especially interesting for social anthropology when studies take ac-count of discourses as well as of the underlying actions. In Panel V, Harri Englund will exam-ine, taking the example of Malawi, how the ‘favourite export’ of the West, democracy and freedom, impede the fight against poverty and injustice. Here discourses and ‘hard’ facts from different normative orders and worlds confront one another. Like other disciplines which deal with the interpretation and transformation of the historical situation, economics is also open to the suspicion of ideology – specifically, that it employs ideological arguments to justify the status quo (or proposed transformations thereof) instead of restricting itself to objective analyses. Whether and how a maximally value-free political economy is possible has been a topic of recurrent, intense debate in Germany since the nineteenth century. The German historical school believed that it was possible to identify and institutionalise the values associated with the desirable historical development towards increasing prosperity and culture, whereas in the epoch which followed abstract theory and the political abstinence of science became the watchwords. The European university reforms have infused these de-bates with new life.

Mamadou Diawara und Betram Schefold


Mamadou DiawaraMamadou Diawara ist Professor für Historische Ethnologie an der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität. Zuvor lehrte er an der Universität von Georgia in Athens/USA und war Gastprofessor für Geschichte und Ethnologie Afrikas an der Yale Universität. Seit 2004 ist er Stellvertretender Direktor des dortigen Frobenius-Instituts, dem ältesten ethnologischen Forschungsinstitut Deutschlands. Zudem ist Direktor von Point Sud, Forschungszentrum für lokales Wissen in Bamako, Mali, und Principal Investigator in diesem Exzellenzcluster. Publikationen u.a.: L’empire du verbe - L’éloquence du silence. Vers une anthropologie du discours dans les groupes dits dominés au Sahel (Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe, 2003), and with Ute Röschenthaler, Im Blick der Anderen (Brandes & Apsel, 2008).

Bertram Schefold (* 1943) studied in Munich, Basel and Hamburg and received a diploma in mathematics, theoretical physics and philosophy (Mai 1967). Following that he turned to the study of political economy in Basel and Cambridge (UK), which he concluded with a doctor-ate in 1971. He lectured in mathematical political economy in Basel (1971-1972), and was subsequently Visiting Scholar at Trinity College in Cambridge and Research Associate at Harvard. Since 1974, Bertram Schefold has been full professor in the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at the Goethe University Frankfurt. He has held numerous guest professorships, teaching at Nice in 1977 and 1993 and at Toulouse in 1992 and 1993. He was Theodor Heuss Professor at the New School for Social Research in New York in 1984 and has taught at the universities of Rome (1985) and Venice (1990). In addition, he taught for ten years at the Center of Advanced Economic Studies in Trieste (1981-1990). In 2004 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Faculty of Law of the University of Tubingen, and in 2005 he received an honorary doctorate from the Università degli studi di Macerata in Italy. Recent publications: Beiträge zur ökonomischen Dogmengeschichte (ed. Volker Caspari) (2004); Normal Prices, Technical Change and Accumulation (1997); Wirtschaftsstile, vols. 1 & 2 (1994-1995).

Harri Englund

Economic Rights as a Justification Narrative

Poverty and Vulnerability in Africa

Harri EnglundHarri Englund is Reader in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, Fellow of Churchill College in Cambridge, and Docent in African Studies at the University of Helsinki. He has held several research positions in British, Nordic and African institutions, most recently as Fellow of the Economic and Social Research Council in the UK. On the basis of long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, his research has examined contests over the meaning of human rights under the conditions of severe poverty and political liberalization. His work on the moral imagination has also addressed the popularity of Pentecostal Christianity. Among the books he has published are "Prisoners of Freedom: Human Rights and the African Poor" (2006) and "Rights and the Politics of Recognition in Africa" (2004).

Keith Tribe

The Limits of the Market: Walras versus Becker

Keith TribeKeith Tribe was born in London in 1949, and studied social sciences and economic history at the universities of Essex (1968-71) and Cambridge (1972-1976). He taught at the University of Keele 1977 to 2002, retiring as Reader in Economics, specialising in Industrial and European Economics. He has published on the history of German economics 1750-1950 (Governing Economy, Cambridge UP 1988, and Strategies of Economic Order, Cambridge UP 1995/2007) and has done extensive research on the formation of economics as a university discipline in Britain. Currently a Visiting Senior Research Fellow in History at the University of Sussex, he is also professional translator. He lives near Malvern, Worcestershire, and has been a professional rowing coach for The King’s School, Worcester since 2003.

Recent publications as a translator are Wilhelm Hennis, Politics as a Practical Science and J. H. von Thünen, The Isolated State in Relation to Agriculture and Political Economy Part III (both Palgrave 2009). He recently completed a translation for Princeton UP of Lessons from the Financial Crisis by Mathias Dewatripont, Jean-Charles Rochet and Jean Tirole, and in the autumn of 2009 will complete a new translation of Max Weber’s Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft K.1-4. Other recent publications include:
“German Economics in the Early Nineteenth Century”, and “British Economics in the 20th Century”, in Stephen Durlauf, Lawrence Blume (eds.) The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd. Edition, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke 2008.
“Political Economy Club”, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press 2008.
“Happiness: What’s the Use?”, Economy and Society Vol. 37 (2008) pp. 460-68.
„’Das Adam Smith Problem’ and the Origins of Modern Smith Scholarship“, History of European Ideas Vol. 34 (2008) pp. 514-25.
“Liberalism and Neoliberalism in Britain, 1930-80” Phil Mirowski, Dieter Plehwe (eds.) The Road from Mont Pèlerin. The Making of the Neoliberal Thought Collective, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Mass.) 2009 pp. 68-97.


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