Economic and Social History Blog

Blog during Corona

Songs of Praise of Economic History: A blog in corona times

Written by: Jan Luiten van Zanden

What to do in corona times during an exile from the workplace? In early March 2020 when the corona pandemic had reached the Netherlands, the government told us to stay at home and do our work on-line. It felt a bit like having to leave Florence for a less risky place in the countryside, as happened to a legendary group of young ones during the pandemic of 1348. To make the most of it, and to discipline myself, I decided to tell a story every day (except on Sundays). In the 21st century, such stories are called blogs, so I became a blogger, and started my days writing ‘something’. Most blogs were about research in economic and ecological history I am working on, and I freely borrowed from a few books and papers  I was writing. Some blogs are a spin-off of the history of Dutch nature I wrote together with Joop Schaminée, Rob Snelders and Thomas van Goethem, but often they were based on what I as an amateur birdwatcher think I have learned about nature. Don’t take it too seriously. However, most blogs are about economic history, quantitative research, national and international differences in institutions and mentalities, lessons learned from research, and related topics (hence the title). The other book I was writing, with Maarten Prak, about the Netherlands between 1000 and 1800, was another source of inspiration. And the name of Bach is mentioned occasionally. There is often a personal touch, and I speculate about topics in ways which are beyond strict academic reasoning – and would certainly not have been approved by some referees. The blogs originally written in Dutch were not included here (with one exception).

The full list of all blog posts are:

  1. Watching the birds in my garden (19-3-2020)
  2. Imperialism and Vergaderen (20-3-2020)
  3. Bach’s contribution to Dutch GDP (21-3-2020)
  4. Church Building in the Middle Ages – and the power of the referee (23-3-2020)
  5. Crisis in the Garden (24-3-2020)
  6. What can be learned from the Olympics (25-3-2020)
  7. Hot Wolves in the Freedom of Bruges (26-3-2020)
  8. Broad Well-Being (27-3-2020)
  9. Sisterhood (28-3-2020)
  10. A year without the Mattheus (29-3-2020)
  11. The group portrait as an institution (30-3-2020)
  12. EU in crisis? (31-3-2020)
  13. Why is there beauty in nature? (1-4-2020)
  14. Charles Tilly in Palestine: the people of Israel demand a king (2-4-2020)
  15. A republican manifesto (3-4-2020)
  16. Parking tickets in New York and the moral consequences of capitalism (4-2-2020)
  17. The most beautiful notes in classical music (5-4-2020)
  18. The growing pains of the digital economy (6-4-2020)
  19. Joop Goudsblom and the rewildering of society (7-4-2020)
  20. Back to the dinosaurs (8-4-2020)
  21. The growing pains of the digital economy 2.0 (9-4-2020)
  22. J.S.Bach, Jack Goldstone, and numbers (10-4-2020)
  23. Economic History at the frontier (11-4-2020)
  24. The greylag goose, the memory of nature and the usefulness of economic history (13-4-2020)
  25. Are we smarter than Colijn, or Charles V? (14-4-2020)
  26. Halcyon days, and a plea to canonize Eleonora (15-4-2020)
  27. The Olympics and the Zoetemelk syndrome (17-4-2020)
  28. Madrid and the resource curse (18-4-2020)
  29. The Calimero Effect and Original Sin (21-4-2020)
  30. How do you get smart? (23-4-2020)
  31. In Maddison’s footsteps (24-4-2020)
  32. The VOC and the Elephant (26-4-2020)
  33. De vrijmarkt en de opmars van het neo-liberalisme (27-4-2020)
  34. Cumulative history or a debate without an end? (28-4-2020)
  35. The solitude of the organ (29-4-2020)
  36. Simply the best (30-4-2020)
  37. The wonders of the Orkneys (1-5-2020)
  38. Good and evil in economic history (4-5-2020)
  39. East of Suez (5-5-2020)
  40. Women at the Olympics (7-5-2020)
  41. The Putin Cycle (9-5-2020)
  42. A little blogje about a tiny issue (15-5-2020)
  43. The Dutch version of 20th-century depressions (18-5-2020)
  44. In honour of Janne Heyndericx (19-5-2020)
  45. The first European birdwatcher (20-5-2020)
  46. The American split (21-5-2020)
  47. The long tail of the long-tailed tit (23-5-2020)
  48. Paradise Lost (25-5-2020)
  49. Claiming Easter Island (26-5-2020)
  50. No blog today (27-5-2020)
  51. The second domestication (28-5-2020)
  52. Kremlin, Moscow, 9-10-2015 (29-5-2020)
  53. Thirty lost years? (2-6-2020)
  54. Constructing our own cage (3-6-2020)
  55. My first desk rejection (4-6-2020)
  56. The Good, the Bad and the Owl (5-6-2020)
  57. Was Marx a Marxist? (8-6-2020)
  58. The end… for the moment (10-6-2020)