Michel Foucault’s Archaeology of Knowledge was one of the first books I read in graduate school. No fault of my supervisor or my school, I was convinced. From thereon “grand narratives” were horrid beasts that trampled historical detail.
Cherishing this obsession of mine, it seems that every other paper I read hand waves a grand narrative (to be replaced in the author’s next paper). As the dials of the kaleidoscope turn, we see variations of the same theme, familiar tales. It goes that: economist x was forgotten or misunderstood and from this capital sin economics never recovered. It is unfair to claim that all history of economics is of this “negative whiggish” kind, a history of missed progress. But there is enough of it to create the expectation that an historian is a steward of the present as past.
I have wanted to ignore this performative demand. But laboring small tales at my workshop doesn’t seem enough. In seminars and referee reports I am asked for grand ideas. So, I am issuing an open call for an all encompassing narrative. Candidates please apply.