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The Future of Economic History: A Canadian Conference University of Guelph 17-19 October 2003

Economic History in the Southern Cone (Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay): recent trends and prospects
By Luis Bértola Economic and Social History Programme Universidad de la República, Uruguay (lbertola@fcsum.edu.uy) (Draft. Please, don’t quote)

Abstract:
The aim of the paper is to place recenttrends (since the mid-1980s) in Southern Cone Economic History in relation to international trends and to the debate among the social sciences. The authoritarian interlude (1970s-1980s) constituted an important watershed in Southern Cone academic life, particularly in the social sciences. Since the restoration of democracy much of the lost terrain had to be regained, but both ideas and institutionalarrangements changed radically. In the 1990s and in spite of decreasing popularity, economic history centred the interest of small but dynamic groups of scholars and the amount of domestic research showed a significant increment. Different economic history programmes and departments appeared in a few universities which started post-graduate courses. National Economic History associations werefounded and consolidated; contacts with the international community increased significantly; and the kind of economic historical production was diversified. The Southern Cone is rapidly developing an integrated academic milieu, with every national conference attracting great numbers of scholars from the neighbouring countries. Still, many different traditions survive and practitioners of economichistory are far from sharing substantial agreements on the epistemological grounds of the discipline. The paper will focus on a few central themes, which have deserved increasing interest, in order to exemplify the features and trends in the different research traditions. Finally, some ideas will be advanced, about central topics for future research, as well as about some institutional/organisationalarrangements, which can improve the development of the discipline in the Southern Cone.

Luis Bértola

Introduction The aim of the paper is to place recent trends (since the mid-1980s) in Southern Cone Economic History in relation to international trends and to the debate among the social sciences. The authoritarian interlude (late 1960s to early 1980s) constituted an important watershed inSouthern Cone academic life, particularly in the Social Sciences. Since the restoration of democracy, much of the lost terrain had to be regained, but both ideas and institutional arrangements changed radically. Economic History didn’t exist as an independent field of research in the 1960s and 1970s, as almost all History was mainly economic and social, and almost all economics was developmentorientated. During the authoritarian interlude, Economic History weakened significantly: economics became increasingly formalised and interested in short-run issues; historians run away from economics and became increasingly interested in politics, mentalities, daily life, culture, and were increasingly penetrated by postmodernism. Nevertheless, and in spite of decreasing popularity, economic historycentred the interest of small but dynamic groups of scholars. As the 1990s advanced, the amount of domestic research showed a significant increment. Different economic history programmes and departments appeared in a few universities which started teaching post-graduate courses. National Economic History associations were founded and consolidated; contacts with the international community increasedsignificantly; and the kind of economic historical production varied and was diversified. The Southern Cone is rapidly developing an integrated academic milieu, with every national conference attracting great numbers of scholars from the neighbouring countries. Still, many different traditions survive and practitioners of Economic History are far from sharing substantial agreements on the...
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