Project description

Today globalization, the integration of the world’s economies, is blamed for crises of corporate excess,
gaping economic inequality and revived populist nationalisms; to understand its complex history is more
pressing than ever. ECOINT advances an innovative approach to the study of the struggles over economic ideas that have fashioned the paths to globalization. It shifts our focus from international economic thought as an unanchored field of ideas, to ‘international economic thinking’, generated in and through institutional sites distinctive to the 20th century: intergovernmental organisations and associated international non-governmental organisations. ECOINT adds to the history of globalization important but understudied economic thinkers, namely mid-level and ‘non-intellectual’ intellectuals, many of them women, working with and in these organizations, from 1919 until 2001. Hence, ECOINT provides a nuanced history of twentieth century international economic thinking and imaginaries, while making a unique contribution to understanding of the international 20th century. Above and beyond, ECOINT will ask: What difference did women economic thinkers make in the course of globalization? And what was the role of business, operating through INGOs?

The overarching ambition of ECOINT is an integrated history and deeper understanding of the registers of international economic thinking that facilitated global economic integration.

Its central objectives are:

  • The capture of the breadth and depth of international economic ideas from 1919 to 2001, leading to a capstone global history of international economic thinking, with a particular focus on mid-level and ‘non-intellectual’ intellectuals working with/at through international institutions, both IGOs and INGOs.
  • The study of an important but understudied cohort of these mid-level and ‘non-intellectual’ international economic thinkers in the 20th century international system, namely women, leading to a history of women economic thinkers working with/at international institutions, both IGOs and INGOs.
  • An emphasis on economic thinking generated in and through institutional sites that distinctly shaped the 20th century, leading to the mapping of international economic thinking at major IGOs, with particular attention to the UN Regional Economic Commissions, in Europe, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, and Africa. ECOINT will also map the business INGOs that orbited in the international system, the IFBPW and where relevant the ICC, leading to new histories of these bodies, their expert staff and a deeper understanding of their international economic influence.
  • The establishment of a collaborative empirical research database gathering the primary evidence of male and female economic thinkers who found work as elite and ‘mid-level intellectuals’ in international policy making bureaucracies: the League of Nations, ILO, UN, UNESCO, FAO, IMF, World Bank, UNCTAD, and UN Regional Economic Commissions [ECs]; as well as women who sought influence through the IFBPW and ICC (Hq and regional branches), including as ‘non-intellectual’ economic thinkers.
  • The coordination of an outreach program based on ECOINT’s empirical findings dedicated to expanding public debate around i) the diverse ideological international roots of globalization ii) the difference that women economic thinkers made.