Melanie Meng Xue, Assistant Professor of Economics, New York University Abu Dhabi
Monday January 20, 2020
Folklore is the collection of traditional beliefs, customs, and stories of a community, passed through the generations by word of mouth. This vast expressive body, studied by the corresponding discipline of folklore, has evaded the attention of economists. Melanie and her co-author, in their study, do four things that reveal the tremendous potential of this corpus for understanding comparative development and culture. First, they introduce and describe a unique catalogue of folklore that codes the presence of thousands of motifs for roughly 1,000 pre-industrial societies. Second, they use a dictionary-based approach to elicit group-specific measures of various traits related to the natural environment, institutional framework, and mode of subsistence. They establish that these proxies are in accordance with the ethnographic record, and illustrate how to use a group’s oral tradition to quantify non-extant characteristics of preindustrial societies. Third, they use folklore to uncover the historical cultural values of a group. Doing so allows them to test various influential conjectures among social scientists including the original affluent society, the culture of honor among pastoralists, the role of family in extended kinship systems and the intensity of trade and rule-following norms in politically centralized group. In this workshop, Melanie will explore how cultural norms inferred via text analysis of oral traditions predict contemporary attitudes and beliefs.
[Call for Papers] The seventh Annual International Symposium on Quantitative History Yantai, Shandong, China
July 16 -1 7, 2019
We are pleased to announce that the Seventh Annual International Symposium on Quantitative History will take place at Longfor Learing Center in Yantai, Shandong Province, China, July 16 - 17, 2019. The symposium is hosted by the Society for Quantitative History, in collaboration with University of Hong Kong, Tsinghua University and School of History, Renmin University of China. We now invite submissions of research papers on all relevant historical topics using quantitative approaches including but not limited to economic and social history, political history, cultural history, business and financial history and archival history.