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Wolfson (Ancient) Warfare Wednesdays — Greek Warfare and Economics

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  • UserDr Manu Dal Borgo (BA Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Cambridge)
  • ClockWednesday 24 June 2020, 18:00-19:00
  • HouseZoom webinar.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Julian Siebert.

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Warfare economics is fundamentally the study of the trade-off between guns and butter and also between appropriation and production. In economics the usual assumption is that property rights are perfect and costless. That is, when people agree terms, those terms are assumed to be clearly understood by all and that all parties fulfill their obligations without fail. To reflect the realities of war, in the emerging specialist field called the “economics of conflict”, property rights are neither perfectly nor costlessly enforced. These scholars employ game theory to understand how a state allocates resources in times of war. Each state’s labour market allocation today from peacetime work to military service, for example, may determine tomorrow’s distribution of power from losers to victors among warring states. It is power both commercial and political which is the output of war.

Drawing from their highly biased sources of data, ancient historians traditionally cling to an anti-axiomatic approach to history. Generalisable historical scenarios are regarded with suspicion and thus are rarely extracted from the archaeological and written evidence. Manuela will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the economics of conflict for the study of ancient Greek warfare using case studies from the archaic to the classical period.

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