The Disciplines Series: The Idea of Development

Development and Underdevelopment in Postwar Europe

Friday, October 10, 2014  9:00am - 6:00pm The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room


Heyman Center for the Humanities

The Blinken European Institute

East Central European Center

Global Studies Institute of the University of Geneva

The economic aftermath of World War II in Europe is normally studied through the lens of reconstruction. However, many contemporaries saw “backwardness” as the main social and economic issue in several European regions. For these scholars, practitioners and policy-makers, reconstructing those economies not only would not have solved their structural problems; it might have even exacerbated their chronic underdevelopment and increased the gap with the more advanced regions. The history of postwar Europe is thus also the story of the attempts to overcome the structural backwardness of depressed regions through a conscious development effort, designed to bring radical changes to their economic and social structure in the long run.

While the history of postwar development ideas and institutions is mostly told as an extra-European history, this workshop will study the European roots of postwar development policies, and how they influenced development policies in the rest of the world. Far from remaining confined within European borders, this experience was in fact considered by the international development community as an incubator of lessons and ideas to be applied in underdeveloped areas worldwide.

For a report on the conference papers, visit the Toynbee Prize Foundation website.

Event is free and open to the public. Seating is first come, first served.


  • Michele Alacevich

    Assistant Professor of History and Director of Global Studies

    Loyola University, Maryland

  • Johanna Bockman

    Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology

    George Mason University

  • Thomas David

    Professor of International History

  • Simon Godard

    Teaching and Research Assistant

    Global Studies Institute of the University of Geneva

  • Andreas Kakridis

    Adjunct Lecturer in Economics

    National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

  • Yanni Kotsonis

    Associate Professor of History, Russian & Slavic Studies

    New York University

  • Sandrine Kott

    Professor of European Contemporary History

    University of Geneva

  • James Mark

    Professor of History

    University of Exeter

  • Timothy Nunan

    Harvard Academy Scholar

    Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies

  • Daniel Speich

    Assistant Professor for History

    University of Lucerne, Switzerland

  • Adam Tooze

    Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of History

    Columbia University


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