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Violence and the History of Inequality 2
11 April
16:00 - 17:30
De Waalse Kerk, Walenpleintje 159

Violence and the History of Inequality

NIAS Lecture

The very first NIAS Lecture will be delivered by the distinguished historian Walter Scheidel (Stanford University). In his lecture, “Violence and the history of inequality”, he will present new insights into why inequalities are so persistent in societies - and why this situation is unlikely to improve within the near future.

Violence and the History of Inequality

For thousands of years, inequality of income and wealth has been a defining feature of civilization. Only violent shocks have greatly narrowed the gap between rich and poor: mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolutions, state collapse and catastrophic plagues. This lecture examines these processes over the long run of history, and considers the prospects of leveling in today’s more stable world.


15.45 Doors open
16.00 Welcome by Jan Willem Duyvendak (Director NIAS)
16.10 Introduction by Jan Luiten van Zanden (Professor of Economic History, International Institute for Social History/ Utrecht University)
16.25 Lecture by Walter Scheidel
17.15 – 18.00 Drinks

About Walter Scheidel

Walter Scheidel is the Dickason Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Classics and History, and a Kennedy-Grossman Fellow in Human Biology at Stanford University. His research focuses on ancient social and economic history, with particular emphasis on historical demography, labour, and state formation. More generally, he is interested in comparative and transdisciplinary approaches to the study of the premodern world and has been trying to build bridges between the humanities, the social sciences, and the life sciences.

In Scheidel’s latest book, The Great Leveler – violence and the history of inequality from the stone age to the twenty-first century, he shows that inequality never dies peacefully. Inequality declines when carnage and disaster strike and increases when peace and stability return. The book was listed as one of the Financial Times Best Books of 2017, The New York Times “Business Books Worth Reading” and BBC History Magazine’s Books of the Year 2017. It is the first time Scheidel will hold a public lecture in the Netherlands to discuss the insights from this research.

Violence and the History of Inequality 3

NIAS Lecture series

The NIAS Lecture series is born from the belief that academic knowledge from the humanities and the social sciences is more relevant to societies than ever before. In hosting this series of annual lectures, NIAS provides a platform for renowned scholars to present their ideas about the value of knowledge to the general public.


You can register for this event for free (see button on the left of this page). If you subscribe for the event we count on your presence. If you are unable to attend, please let us know.

About The Great Leveler