A History of the Economics of International Trade

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A History of the Economics of International Trade

International trade can be seen through many disciplinary lenses. For economists the standard account remains that of the greatest historian of the discipline Jacob Viner, published in 1937, supplemented by work on more recent developments international trade theory, and histories of trade policy. International trade in goods and services is intimately related to other mobilities such as of capital and labour, either temporary flows or permanent migration.

My project is to write a new history of economists thinking about international trade, covering the period from the beginning of the discipline in early modern Europe to the present day, drawing on primary sources. I am attempting (possibly foolishly) to write both for contemporary economists and to contextualise economic thinking in a way that is satisfying for intellectual historians. This attempt is supported by reception history methods which give due attention to the original context (or horizon) and those of subsequent readers including contemporary economists.

This seminar will give attendees some insight into the ways economists have theorised international trade, and provide an opportunity for discussion of the relationship to other disciplinary perspectives.


Professor Paul Oslington
Prior to abandoning the respectable university world to join friends at Alphacrucis to build a Pentecostal Christian university for Australia he was Professor of Economics at Australian Catholic University and Associate Professor of Economics at UNSW.  During this time enjoyed visiting fellowships at University of Oxford, University of British Columbia and Princeton.  His PhD in Economics and Master of Economics/Econometrics were completed at the University of Sydney, and Bachelor of Divinity and Doctor of Theology through University of Divinity, Melbourne.  Books include The Theory of International Trade and Unemployment (Edward Elgar),  Adam Smith as Theologian (Routledge),  Oxford Handbook of Economics and Christianity (OUP), Political Economy as Natural Theology: Smith Malthus and their Followers (Routledge) and is currently working on a monograph commissioned by Harvard University Press on the history of economic thinking in the Christian tradition, as well as a volume on international trade for the Cambridge University Press Historical Perspectives on Modern Economics series. 

Date & time

Tue 23 Aug 2022, 4.30–6pm


CAIS Al-falasi Theatre, Building 127, Ellery Cres ANU


Professor Paul Oslington (Alphacrucis (AC) University College)


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