Histories of Law, Public Policy, and Economics in Crisis

AHA Session 242
Saturday, January 7, 2017: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Room 501 (Colorado Convention Center, Meeting Room Level)
Debjani Bhattacharyya, Drexel University
The Audience

Session Abstract

How do moments of economic crisis or transition inspire experiments to remake economic and political life? In this panel, we tackle how national elites and international policy makers capitalized on moments of upheaval to impose visions of how economies should work or law should function, as well as the infighting that resulted from competing visions of a nation’s future. We also question and destabilize the categories that economists, international organizations, and politicians used to legitimize projects, such as development, the rule of law, modernization, industry, or civility. In the case of Sudan, Young questions whether economic visions of progress mapped onto the geographic boundaries of an emergent nation-state, arguing that the theoretical frameworks of Sudanese economists increasingly defined the nationalist project. Similarly, d’Avignon examines how colonial and post-colonial technical experts shaped extractive economies in sub-Saharan Africa by classifying African extractive activities as “artisanal” and those of expatriates as “industrial.” For Latin America, Andrade and Teixeira both examine how law – and its enforcement – constituted an experiment in and of itself. For Brazil during World War II, laws and special tribunals were created to police basic market transactions in ways that reveal the extent to which law transformed into a tool of statist intervention in the economy, while for Colombia, the political violence of the late 1940s brought radically divergent visions for how to organize government and political representation. Together, these cases allow us to think about the long-lasting effects of critical junctures during the World War II and post-war period. More so, this panel interrogates a global divide that was in the making in these years, one that classified nations as either “developed” or otherwise. In this way, these papers look to Africa and Latin America to explore how experiments in law and economics constructed, challenged, and redefined a new global order.   
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