Rewriting the History of Global Economic Thought

As the world faces successive unprecedented challenges having impact on how we live our lives, economics has become crucial to the world’s future prospects. This Elements volume will revisit the question “what does historical research add to our understanding of the historiography of economic thought?”, and the kind of historical research needed to pave pathways for a sustainable prosperous future. The volume will argue that a break with methodological nationalism is needed, even in the writing of global history. As an alternative, it will discuss a novel, planetary perspective and apply it to the study of the history of economic thought. A full elaboration of what we mean by planetary perspective will be an integral part of the volume. At its basics, we follow sociological accounts of methodological nationalism (e.g. Ulrich Beck) and conceptualise the planetary perspective as a perspective that enables us to take into account, both, the powerful concept and omnipresent practices of externalisation and the profound and systemic enmeshment of lives on the planet. In this sense, as the volume will show, what we mean by planetary is different from other and related concepts such as global and sustainable, the latter concepts which will be subject to  historicization in our discussion.  


Among the subjects that we will examine through this planetary perspective—based on original archival research— are: who can be counted as an economic thinker? Where are the sites of economic thinking? What counts as economic thought in history? What difference does a history from a planetary perspective make to how we tell the stories of the past, and think about economic ideas in the future.  Along the way we canvas themes such as imperial economic sovereignty, capitalism and development, international governance, the social and institutional context of ideas, the roles of “mid-level” and “non-intellectual” thinkers. From a planetary perspective, a new history of economic thought can reveal an alternative spectrum of economic thinking, and re-evaluate the role of international institutions, and international politics as well as of hitherto overlooked actors, working in these institutions.  


Prof Glenda Sluga


ECOINT Principal Investigator

glenda.sluga AT

Dr Sabine Selchow


ECOINT Senior Fellow

sabine.selchow AT