The KLI
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2021-11-22
Historian of economic thought Antoine Missemer visits the KLI

In October, we welcomed the visiting fellow Antoine Missemer at the KLI. Antoine is a historian of economic thought based at the International Center for Research on Environment and Development (CIRED/CNRS) in Paris. His work focuses on the history of environmental, ecological, and energy economics.

During his stay at the KLI, Antoine worked alongside KLI Resident Postdoctoral Fellow Marco Vianna Franco in the development of a co-authored book titled A History of Ecological Economic Thought, to be published by Routledge in the summer of 2022. Their book offers a long-run historical perspective on the interlinkages between the natural and social sciences for the sake of better understanding human-nature relations. It moves beyond more established accounts on 20th-century biophysical approaches to economic processes, going as far back as to the Renaissance to include less known episodes such as Linnaeus’s economy of nature, Goethe and Humboldt’s Naturphilosophie, sanitary reformism in mid-19th century France and Britain, Russian utopianism in the late 19th century, and American land economics in the early 20th century. As a result, the book portrays overarching questions which transcend single episodes in the history of ecological economic thought, such as discussions on the value of nature and economic goods, on the role of capitalism as an environmental threat per se, on scarcity and abundance in nature, and on methodological concerns about levels of abstraction in economic theory. Rather than providing answers for all these questions, the authors acknowledge their relevance for identifying enduring elements within this broad set of ideas, which are also deemed as useful for the current development of ecological economics as a scientific field or discipline.

In addition, Antoine held a KLI Colloquium, Do Economic Words Harm Sustainability? Some Lessons from Conceptual History, where he posed the question whether economic words can harm sustainability and what lessons might be drawn from conceptual history in this regard.