Ha-Joon Chang on Economics v Science Fiction and other great ways to end your weeks this autumn – the LSE’s Cutting Edge lectures are back

October 6, 2022

     By Duncan Green     

Ha-Joon Chang on Economics v Science Fiction, and other great ways to end your weeks this autumn – the LSE’s Cutting Edge lectures are back

Heads up for this year’s LSE ‘Cutting Edge Issues in Development Thinking and Practice’ lecture series, which kicks off next Friday (14th October). We’re moving into hybrid mode this year, with a mix of online and in person (for LSE students) events, organized by me and Dr Laura Mann. All of the lectures are Fridays 4-5.30 (except for the panel on December 2nd) – great way to end the week. Register for live zoom here, or catch up afterwards on youtube or via the podcast.

First up on the 14th is the inimitable Ha-Joon Chang, who may become even more iconoclastic since his recent move to SOAS (not that he was exactly sticking to the party line at Cambridge….). His intriguing title – ‘Economics v Science Fiction’

Here’s his blurb:

‘Economics and science fiction share many interrelations that are rarely recognised.

Firstly, a lot of economics is science fiction. Many economists believe in the fiction that they are practising ‘science’, while many also believe in the fiction that progress in ‘science’ (and thus technology) is the solution to virtually all economic problems.

Saying that much of economics is science fiction doesn’t mean that science fiction itself is not useful for economics. It has been a powerful way to imagine alternative realities in which very different technologies have changed our institutions and even individuals, making us re-think our assumptions about economy and society.

Extending this logic, we can say history is a dystopian science fiction even without memories of advanced technologies. Moreover, if studying history helps us to imagine other realities, so do comparative studies.

In trying to understand the world, we can be immensely helped by science fiction, history, and comparative studies, because they allow us to see that the existing economic and social order is not a ‘natural’ one, that it can be changed, and, most importantly, that it has been brought about only because some people dared to imagine a different world and fought for it.’

Sinéad Murphy is the discussant, and I will be chairing. Bit worried about choosing the resto for the post-lecture dinner though – Ha-Joon is a total foodie, and we are weeks away from the publication of what will undoubtedly by his next bestseller, Edible Economics, which is going to be on a lot of Christmas lists…

As you can see from the poster, Ha-Joon is followed by some top notch speakers and topics – get them in your diaries now, please!

October 6, 2022
Duncan Green