Eric Vanhaute, born in Hoogstraten, Belgium, in 1959. Ph.D. from Ghent University. Professor of Modern and Contemporary Economic and Social History at Ghent University.
Fellow (1 September 2004 – 30 June 2005)
AN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL HISTORY OF THE LAST EUROPEAN SUBSISTENCE CRISIS, 1845-1850. A FLEMISH AND A COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE
My NIAS stay has given me both more and less than I originally planned. Looking back now, far more ‘more’ than ‘less’. The extra is that during my fellowship my scientific orientation took an unplanned and unexpected turn, in two ways. First, concerning my research project on the last big European subsistence crisis of the 1840’s, my angle shifted to a profound comparative perspective. The compilation and edition of a comparative book on the causes and effects of the subsistence crisis enabled me to put the Flemish case into a much broader perspective. The monograph on the potato crisis in Flanders, the second subproject, is becoming much more than planned a wide analysis of the mechanism of survival within the Flemish peasantry and countryside. The foundations for this monograph have been laid during my NIAS sabbatical.
Secondly, and even more sweepingly, is the reorientation of my research interests towards global studies and world history. Starting from my (comparative) case of the 1840’s famine, I worked out (and presented in some lectures) the outlines of research plans on the impact and the interpretation of famines in different historical contexts and on the relationship with the disappearance of peasant societies. In these research plans I combine my ‘old’ (rural society) and ‘new’ (global history, world-system analysis) interests.
My NIAS Fellowship marks a turning point in my scientific career: a water-shed between old and new research plans. NIAS provided me the time, the energy, the company and the ideal environment to read and think and elaborate, step-by-step, this ‘paradigmatic shift’.