Development and Underdevelopment in the History of Economic Thought


The 24th Annual Conference of the European Society for the History of Economic Thought (ESHET) will be hosted by the University of National and World Economy in Sofia, 8-10 October 2021.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the changing policy responses to it, the precise format of the conference is currently under consideration. All prospective delegates will be kept informed about decisions regarding the nature of the conference as a localised or virtual event.

The proposals for papers or sessions that were previously accepted for the (postponed) 2020 ESHET conference will remain accepted for the 2021 conference. No resubmission will be required. If you wish to replace a previously submitted proposal with a new one, please contact Pencho Penchev of the local organising committee at by 30 July 2021.

New proposals for papers or sessions on all aspects of the history of economic thought are welcome. An abstract of about 400 words for a paper and 600 words for a session should be submitted no later than 30 July 2021 via the conference website: Decisions can be expected by 27 August 2021.

Theme of the Conference

Proposals for papers and sessions that fall into the ESHET 2021 conference theme “Development and Underdevelopment in the History of Economic Thought” are particularly welcome. However, proposals may be on any topic relevant to the history of economic thought, and are not restricted to the conference theme.

Development economics as a specific subfield of economics emerged during the last seven decades. Since the 1950s, economists have shown a growing interest in identifying, assessing and alleviating persistent problems of economic stagnation, material poverty and hunger, vulnerability to shocks and unsatisfactory quality of life. For a long time, classical political economists were involved in the discussion about the main quantum leap in economic development, the Industrial Revolution. It spread only slowly from its initial base in North West Europe and it was only during recent decades that it reached large sections of what was once called “the Third World”. It opened up enormous income gaps between regions, known as the “Great Divergence” in international living standards, but fuelled also varied processes of “catching up”. The history of economic thought is full of contributions to debates about the Great Divergence and partial convergence, about their causes and consequences and about strategies to address and resolve the problems of underdevelopment.

Special attention will be granted to proposals that aim to explore how economists have understood the role of economic and other factors in development and in the processes of catching up. Examples include:
• Origin and evolution of our ideas about economic development and underdevelopment;
• Explanations of “relative economic backwardness”;
• The role of institutions in the theories of development and growth;
• Designs of development-oriented economic policy in core and peripheral economies;
• Development and underdevelopment issues in European integration;
• Comparative perspectives on theories of economic development;
• Old and new trends in development economics;
• Post-development: critiques and alternatives to development theories;
• Mainstream and alternative approaches to development economics.



ESHET invites young scholars -- persons currently enrolled in a PhD, or who have been awarded a PhD no more than two years prior to the date of the relevant ESHET conference (and regardless of age) -- to submit their work to the Young Scholars Seminar to be held on the occasion of the ESHET Conference at the University of National and World Economy in Sofia, Bulgaria, October 8-10, 2021. Papers co-authored by Ph.D. supervisors or other senior researchers are not eligible. The grants for the scholars selected to the Young Scholars Seminar are sponsored by the European Journal of the History of Economic Thought.

Up to six submissions will be selected: The travel expenses will be covered up to €300, the accommodation costs up to €80/night for three nights, and no registration fee will be charged. Moreover, the grantee scholars will be invited to the conference dinner. The authors of the selected papers will have 20 minutes each to present the paper, and a senior scholar will discuss it. Papers may be on any topic relevant to the history of economics, and are not restricted to the conference theme.

ESHET encourages young scholars to participate in the conference. A one-year ESHET membership is offered to all young scholars who submit a paper. Papers that have not been selected for the grant will be considered for presentation at other ESHET 2021 conference sessions. Papers may be considered for publication in Economic alternatives (

Candidates should e-mail a paper no longer than 9000 words to Professors SYLVIE RIVOT ( ( and CHRISTIAN GEHRKE ( by 30 July 2021.

Please include documentation of your (and your co-authors’) position vis-à-vis your PhD, and indicate in the subject of your e-mail: For Young Scholar Seminar.

Decisions can be expected by 27 August 2021.