RHI Researchers win two awards in one week

Published on
April 6, 2016

Last week, two prizes were awarded to RHI Researchers. PhD students Kostadis Papaioannou and Michiel de Haas won the Jan Lucassen Award and lecturer Pim de Zwart won the Thirsk-Feinstein Phd dissertation prize.

Jan Lucassen Award

RHI PhD students Kostadis Papaioannou and Michiel de Haas have won the Jan Lucassen Award (€1,000) for the best paper presented by PhD students at the 11th European Social Science History Conference 2016, held in Valencia, Spain. They received the prize at the general assembly of the conference on Thursday, 31 March.

Their paper Weather shocks, social upheaval and cash crops: Evidence from colonial tropical Africa was praised by the jury for its excellent application of social science methods and theory to the historical problem of African farmers’ responses to weather shocks. The paper presents results from a panel-data regression analysis including 151 districts for a period of twenty years (1920-1939), demonstrating that levels of social upheaval caused by severe rainfall deviations – both droughts and excessive precipitation – were significantly lower in districts cultivating export crops. Their paper offers an important contribution to the longstanding debate on the pros and cons of agricultural commercialization, arguing that the surplus revenues generated by export crops partially alleviated negative rural income shocks. Papaioannou and De Haas both work on the ERC project “Is poverty destiny? A New Empirical Foundation for Long-Term African Welfare Analysis” led by Ewout Frankema.


Thirsk-Feinstein PhD dissertation prize

Two days later, on Saturday 2 April, RHI lecturer Pim de Zwart was awarded the Thirsk-Feinstein PhD dissertation prize (£1,000) at the annual meeting of the Economic History Society, held at Cambridge University, UK.

This prestigious dissertation prize is considered to be one of the most important prizes for young Economic Historians. De Zwart graduated cum laude at Utrecht University on his thesis Globalization and the Colonial Origins of the Great Divergence. Intercontinental Trade and Living Standards in the Dutch East India Company’s Commercial Empire, c. 1600-1800. In his dissertation De Zwart skilfully intertwines the historical debates on early-modern globalization and the roots of the yawning global economic divide. He based his empirical analyses on an impressive dataset of primary historical sources and combined international trade theory and institutional approaches to show how the VOC affected long term welfare growth in different parts of Asia. Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk (RHI) has been supervisor and co-promotor of De Zwart’s thesis. His manuscript will appear in the Brill Global Economic History Series later this month.

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