Economics in History: The Apologetic Science in Argentina, 1913-1953
Nakhle, Guillermo Emilio
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This dissertation explores the emergence and development of a distinctive professional group: economists in Argentina between 1913 and 1953. This group arose in the context of the rise of state interventionism and the new challenge for Latin American economies in the interwar period. The thesis focuses primarily on the University of Buenos Aires, where the first Faculty of Economic Sciences in Latin America was created in 1913. The dissertation examines the evolution of this institution, as well as the debates it provoked over economic policy, intervention and non-intervention and the nature and scope of economics as a science. It also examines the figures of Alejandro Bunge, Federico Pinedo and Raúl Prebisch. The ultimate goal of this work is to define the scientific spirit of students and professors who were impelled by a new and promising discipline: economics as the most rigorous social science devoted to solve structural problems. The thesis is located at the intersection of the subfields of intellectual history and the history of political economy. It argues that the scientific status of economics was achieved through a set of apologetic procedures that had to do with discourses and scholarly ceremonials driven by the aspiration of establishing economics alongside hard sciences as physics. It concludes that these three figures played a key role in the construction and consolidation of the professional economist profile, and at the same time they gave rise to a new way to understand the state bureaucracy and the need to demand the expertise of this new professionals.