One Year of Diversifying and Decolonizing Economics… and We Have a Present for You!

purple-and-red-balloons-234196In March 2019, Diversifying and Decolonising Economics (D-Econ) officially launched. This month we’re celebrating our 1-year birthday! To celebrate, we’re taking stock of our first year and sharing the news of a special present we have for the economics community. 

How did it start? We were a group of early career heterodox economists who came across each other at conferences and found we had similar concerns – despite being scattered across different departments and countries. Economics is a discipline dominated by white, male, and Western ideas based on discriminatory practices. While the mainstream Economics profession was acting on issues of sexism and racism, their approach was limited in its narrow view of identity, abstracted from broader issues of structural racism, sexism, Eurocentrism and diversity of approaches to economics. Regardless, we still felt that the heterodox economics field was lagging behind the mainstream in addressing its diversity and discrimination issues. In the beginning, we were organising informally, continuously developing, deepening and broadening our critique of the discipline. After a couple of years, we officially launched D-Econ in March 2019. Since then, we’ve expanded way beyond our informal little group and we keep expanding beyond what we thought was possible. New members keep joining, enriching and strengthening the initiative.

What do we want? As we lay out in our mission statement, we are working to promote an economics field free of discrimination, including sexism, racism, and discrimination based on approach and geography. We take a holistic approach, as our mission involves three related, yet distinct, goals. These are: 1. More equal representation in terms of identity, 2. More openness in terms of theoretical and methodological approach, and 3. Decolonising economics by tackling the historically produced Eurocentrism in our field and its claim to neutrality and universality.

What have we done? Now, one year later, we have five active working groups up and running. We’ve noticed a strong demand for D-Econ’s mission as we’ve held well-attended workshops, roundtables and panels at conferences and events, and we’ve gained thousands of followers on social media. Over the past year, members of D-Econ were also interviewed by both Quartz (“Economics needs to do more than attract women to solve its gender problem”) and OpenDemocracy (“What’s wrong with our economic theories and how can we fix them?”).

The working groups have played a central role in our work as they take on specific tasks related to diversifying and decolonizing economics. The Language group is concerned with working to overcome the barriers of language that systematically exclude scholars from developing countries from the profession. The Curriculum group aims to promote diversity in the economics curriculum both through raising awareness and through the concrete task of creating alternative ‘decolonized’ and diversified reading lists for various subfields. They have also developed concrete recommendations on how to revise modules, which will be published in the form of a book chapter this summer. The Guidelines group is working to develop guidelines on how best to foster inclusion in academic departments, publishing practices, and conferences. The Reading List group publishes alternative reading lists twice a year (see summer 2019 and winter 2019) with the aim of offering a corrective to the white-male-mainstream biases of the reading lists published by the big economics papers. 

Here are some of our event highlights from our first year:

  1. We joined a panel on gender and diversity in economics organized by Reteaching Economics at SOAS in London, UK in May, 2019 (read more)
  2. We joined a roundtable discussion at the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) annual conference in Glasgow, Scotland in June 2019, along with Rhonda Sharpe and Nina Banks.
  3. We ran a workshop at the joint annual conference of the International Initiative for Promoting Political Economy (IIPPE) and other heterodox economics organizations in Lille, France in July, 2019 (read more).
  4. We ran a workshop and organized a roundtable at the Institute for New Economic Thinking’s Young Scholars Initiative Asia Convening in Hanoi, Vietnam in August, 2019 (read more).
  5. We had a stand at the 3rd Annual Modern Monetary Theory conference in New York, USA in September, 2019.
  6. We ran a workshop on diversifying and decolonising economics at Rethinking Economics’ European Gathering in Germany in November, 2019 (read more).
  7. We organized a roundtable and participated in a panel debate at the International Confederation of Associations for Pluralism in Economics (ICAPE) annual conference in San Diego, USA in January, 2020 (read more).
  8. We participated in a panel debate on diversifying economics and economic history at LSE in London in February, 2020 (read more).

In the pipeline, we have several more initiatives coming up, including: 

  1. A workshop on diversifying and decolonising the history of economic thought in the Netherlands in June 2020 (read more).
  2. The launch of our D-Econ Blog and D-Econ Podcast
  3. A collaboration with the German Network for Pluralist Economics on their Summer Academy for Pluralist Economics 
  4. We are in the process of collaborating with Institute for New Economic Thinking’s Young Scholars Initiative (YSI) on an Economic Development Conference in India at Azim Premji University, Bengaluru and South Asian University, New Delhi
  5. A chapter in the book 3D Economics: Diversify, Decolonise and Democratise, edited by Rethinking Economics (forthcoming with Manchester University Press in 2020) 
  6. A book on Decolonizing Economics: A Guide to Theory and Practice (forthcoming with Polity Press in 2021)

Our Present for You: The D-Econ Database is Ready to Launch

One of the biggest projects that we have been working on since our launch last year is the Diversifying and Decolonizing Economics (D-Econ) Database. The D-Econ Database is meant to be a tool to counter some of the most common excuses for lack of diversity in the economics profession (e.g. not knowing about non-white or non-male scholars in the field, saying that no woman who was asked was available to participate). The database will contain a list of underrepresented scholars whose work can be classified as non-mainstream. It will be a useful resource for researchers and teachers who are looking to make their practice more inclusive, as well as to conference organizers, journalists, editorial boards, and other institutions, to identify scholars beyond those that tend to get mentioned in the media. More broadly, we hope the database will be useful for anyone who is looking for alternatives outside the so-called mainstream economics. We are happy to announce that the D-Econ Database will launch within the next few weeks. You will be able to add yourself as well as other scholars you believe should be in the database – if they aren’t already there. Watch this space for more!

We are grateful for all the support we have received since our launch one year ago. We are open and grateful to any inputs and feedback you might have. Join the thousands of other people in following us on Facebook and Twitter, and check out how to get involved


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