Peer Vries, born in Weert, the Netherlands, in 1953. Ph.D. from Leiden University. Associate Professor at the Department of History at Leiden University and Professor of History at Radboud University, Nijmegen
Fellow (1 September 2001 – 30 June 2002)
I used the ten months of my stay at NIAS to continue my comparative study of the origins of modern economic growth. This study will result in a book. In this book, that deals with the early modern period, I compare Western Europe, especially Britain, China and Japan, and to a lesser extent, Mughal India and the Ottoman Empire to try and clarify why the West was the first part of the world to have modern economic growth. I managed to finish the draft of the Introduction, on the indicators and chronology of the great divergence, Chapter 1, on the nature of the industrial revolution, and Chapter 2, on ecology, agriculture and energy. Especially this second chapter required extensive reading. A text that in modified form will be Chapter 4, on the role of central government in promoting or hampering the rise of modern economic growth in the five regions mentioned, appeared in Journal of World History. My appointment as professor in Nijmegen resulted in the writing and publishing of my inaugural lecture “Via Peking terug naar Manchester” that was published in 2001. This text was revised, extended and translated into English and will be published as a booklet under the title Over Peking back to Manchester: Britain, the Industrial Revolution and China. Research for and writing of this text were done at NIAS. As the title indicates it presents a systematic comparison of Britain and China made to try and answer the question why Britain industrialized in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries whereas this was not the case with China. As such this text fits in perfectly with the subject of my book. That is also the case with a couple of lectures I gave in Norway and Berlin and with the five sessions on global history I organised and chaired at the European Social Science History Conference in The Hague.