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Michael Stevens Leese
University of New Hampshire, Durham (Durham, NH 03824-2620)
Institutions and Economic Development in Ancient Greece

Research and writing an economic history of ancient Greece, focused on the impact of developing political and cultural institutions.

Economic history is still largely built upon assumptions of a stark dichotomy between the irrational behavior and mentality of premodern individuals and the rationality of the modern West. My project builds upon the conclusions of my first book which overturns the idea of an irrational ancient Greek economy, and makes a case for turning our attention away from theories of psychological differences between the ancient and modern economies and towards institutional factors. Institutional problems such as the lack of effective property rights enforcement for commercial and financial capital and the absence of corporate institutions in the ancient Greek world can explain many of the differences between the ancient and modern economy that scholars have traditionally attributed to a new, rational mentality in the modern West. My study challenges widely-held notions of modernity, and therefore has important implications for scholars in anthropology, classics, economics, and philosophy.

Project fields:
Ancient History; Classical History; Economic History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2020 – 7/31/2020