Can historians assist development policy-making, or just highlight its faults?
History can highlight previously successful strategies; aid reflection on the policy-making process itself; and expose the origins of current ideas. Development policy-making, in the broadest sense, is as old as society. At the simplest level, historians can reveal which brilliant new programs have actually been tried before, then buried, as well as what has worked in the past. Historians, uniquely, can examine circumstances before, during and long after particular interventions, and thus assess their multiple impacts over a far greater time period and in a more nuanced way than is possible for contemporary programs. It is possible for history to assist, positively, in the development of better policy, precisely by showing, negatively, where the obstacles have been to desirable outcomes, whether within policy-making processes themselves or in reactions to them. Public health policy is useful to consider in this respect, because its goals are uncontroversial.
This chapter begins with three different strands of intellectual history. First, there is a large 'business management' literature, the stuff about business one can buy in airports and read on airplanes. Second, the approach of economics is pithily expressed in the fact that the branch of game theory that deals with the possibility of allowing people to communicate during negotiations is called 'cheap talk'. The third element is a bit less intellectual history but a bit more pragmatic. Perhaps nowhere are these three points better illustrated than in the government ownership and control of schooling. Government-produced schooling is arguably the most wildly successful movement of the twentieth century. The shift towards government schooling is not that societies previously did not educate their young and now they do, but rather a contestation about what constitutes an education.
Natural resources and development – which histories matter?
This chapter presents a distinction between 'natural resources' in general (including fertile soil and balmy climates) and what are usually labelled 'point natural resources', i.e. resources like oil, gas, minerals and deep shaft diamonds. To more fully understand the political dynamics of the contemporary 'resource curse', it provides a little schematic economic history. The history of mining in Africa is certainly driven by rents, including the political privileges that they can buy and the political competition and conflicts that they generate. History is not a pristine discipline unaffected by contemporary developments in economics and other social sciences. As in the real world of international trade, intellectual imports, exports and re-exports among disciplines need to be encouraged but also monitored for potential hazards.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, historians of England pioneered a series of new approaches to the history of economic policy. Commerce, finance and statecraft charts the development of these forms of writing and explores the role they played in the period's economic, political and historiographical thought. Through doing so, the book makes a significant intervention in the study of historiography, and provides an original account of early-modern and Enlightenment history. A broad selection of historical writing is discussed, ranging from the work of Francis Bacon and William Camden in the Jacobean era, through a series of accounts shaped by the English Civil War and the party-political conflicts that followed it, to the eighteenth-century's major account of British history: David Hume's History of England. Particular attention is paid to the historiographical context in which historians worked and the various ways they copied, adapted and contested one another's narratives. Such an approach enables the study to demonstrate that historical writing was the site of a wide-ranging, politically charged debate concerning the relationship that existed – and should have existed – between government and commerce at various moments in England’s past.
Writers on historical affairs in the eighteenth century increasingly came to conceive of commerce as a sphere of activity that was more dependent on the manners and desires of a nation's people than it was on the specific actions of its monarchs. The book's conclusion discusses this development with reference to a range of writers (including Hugh Blair, Adam Anderson and Catharine Macaulay) and considers its consequences. Chief among these, it is argued, was a shift in attitudes towards economic statecraft, and a series of new approaches to the histories of finance and commerce.
This book highlights one specific aspect of the history of the Jews in Italy: the trials of professing Jews before the Papal Inquisition at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Inquisitorial processi against professing Jews provide the earliest known evidence of a branch of the Papal Inquisition taking judicial actions against Jews on an unprecedented scale and attempting systematically to discipline a Jewish community, pursuing this aim for several centuries. Although the belief that the Inquisition could prosecute Jews had already been set out by theologians from medieval times, the papacy officially brought them under Inquisitorial jurisdiction in 1581. Sixteen or 9" of processi were initiated by Jewish delators who seemingly believed that the Holy Office was a suitable location for delations of fellow religionists and neophytes.
The middle years of the eighteenth century saw a shift in the historiography of commerce as Enlightenment-era historians became increasingly preoccupied with tracing processes of long-term economic change. As a result, individual incidents in England’s economic past came to be conceived not just as evidence of monarchical prudence or virtue, but rather as sections in a narrative of national commercial development. Chapter 8 addresses the contribution to this approach made by William Guthrie in his General History of England (1744–51). The first part of the discussion explores the Tacitean and Harringtonian approaches to history that Guthrie employed when working as a political journalist in the 1740s. Part two looks at how these ideas shaped his historical writing.
This chapter is concerned with the relationship between David Hume’s writing on political economy and his History of England (1754–61). Underpinning his analysis in these works, it is argued, was an attempt to give England's commercial and financial interests – interests which were in Hume's estimation of vital importance to government – a proper intellectual foundation. In performing this task, Hume developed a damning critique of the economic statecraft tradition; indeed, it was, in part, the misunderstandings of economic affairs committed by previous generations of historians that he sought to warn his readers against and correct. The chapter opens by looking at how these ideas shaped his essays of the 1740s and 1750s, before moving on to look in detail at the History.
The growth and measurement of British public education since the early nineteenth century
This chapter explores the significance of counting communication skills in one of the earliest societies to achieve mass literacy. Much of the debate around the achievement of the Millennium Development and World Education Forum Goals in education revolves around the issue of quantitative analysis. The construction of the opposition between ignorance and knowledge was fundamental to the meanings embedded in the literacy tables. If it embodied a liberal faith in the capacity of communication to promote rational behaviour it also constituted a sweeping dismissal of the entire structure of learning in the communities of the labouring poor. Patrick Colquhoun, one of the earliest advocates of public education, explained the need for intervention: 'In Great Britain and Ireland at least 1,750,000 of the population of the country, at an age to be instructed, grow up to an adult state without any instruction at all, in the grossest ignorance'.
This chapter revisits the nature of early economic growth, with two case studies of natural resource use from the early modern era. The first case is the Netherlands, which some would argue to have been 'the first modern economy'. In the case of England, reassessment of historic growth rates has played down or eliminated the special character of the Industrial Revolution, making the very process of development appear to be more incremental in character and less closely related to the employment of particular technologies or energy sources. The early modern period saw a dramatic relocation of industry, above all energy-intense industry towards coalmining districts. The three centuries after 1600 saw a huge redistribution of the national population towards the coal counties and London, which had become a coal-based city from an early date through imports from the northeast that occupied a very considerable proportion of the nation's merchant marine.