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Edited by Simon Barton and Robert Portass

Beyond the Reconquista: New Directions in the History of Medieval Iberia (711-1085) offers an exciting series of essays by leading scholars in Hispanic Studies from across North America and Europe. At its heart is the Reconquista, without doubt the most important and enduring theme of Iberian historiography of the Middle Ages. The innovative studies collected herein, which treat a diverse array of subjects via forensic analyses of charters, chronicles and coins, shed new light on crucial aspects of medieval Iberian socio-economic, political and cultural history. The result is a collection of essays which marks a decisive and bold turning of the page in Iberian medieval studies, as the reality and ideal of Reconquest come under hitherto unparalleled scrutiny.

Contributors are Graham Barrett, Jeffrey Bowman, Alberto Canto, Nicola Clarke, Wendy Davies, Julio Escalona Monge, Jonathan Jarrett, Eduardo Manzano Moreno, Iñaki Martín Viso and Lucy K. Pick.

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Edited by Mehrdad Fallahzadeh and Forogh Hashabeiky

Series:

Angus E. Dalrymple-Smith

Commercial Transitions and Abolition in West Africa 1630–1860 offers a fresh perspective on why, in the nineteenth century, the most important West African states and merchants who traded with Atlantic markets became exporters of commodities, instead of exporters of slaves. This study takes a long-term comparative approach and makes of use of new quantitative data.

It argues that the timing and nature of the change from slave exports to so-called ‘legitimate commerce’ in the Gold Coast, the Bight of Biafra and the Bight of Benin, can be predicted by patterns of trade established in previous centuries by a range of African and European actors responding to the changing political and economic environments of the Atlantic world.

Christopher L. Colvin and Paul Winfree

Abstract

As a new field of academic enquiry, applied history has a unique opportunity to learn lessons from other applied fields. In this essay, we set out how we think applied historians can learn from past successes and mistakes of applied economists and economic policymakers in their use, and abuse, of economic theory and economic history. What we call here the “New Applied History” has great potential to improve the way policymaking is conducted. But only if its practitioners understand the power, and limitations, of theory. We apply our ideas to the case of budgetary policymaking in the United States.

Bound to Happen

Explanation Bias in Historical Analysis

Aroop Mukharji and Richard Zeckhauser

Abstract

This paper argues that historical analysis, necessarily written with hindsight, often underestimates the uncertainties of the past. We call this tendency explanation bias. This bias leads individuals—including professional historians—to imply greater certainty in causal analyses than the evidence justifies. Their analyses will treat what is plausible to be probable. We offer a few intuitions about why explanation bias exists, its relation to other well-established psychological biases, what it leads to, and how it might be combatted. Appreciating the depth of uncertainty and ignorance in our world is critical for accurately understanding, interpreting, and drawing from the past to illuminate the present and the near future.

Christopher Aldous

This article scrutinizes the controversy surrounding the resumption of Japanese Antarctic whaling from 1946, focusing on the negotiations and concessions that underline the nature of the Allied Occupation as an international undertaking. Britain, Norway, Australia, and New Zealand objected to Japanese pelagic whaling, chiefly on the grounds of its past record of wasteful and inefficient operations. Their opposition forced the Natural Resources Section of General Headquarters, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, to increase the number of Allied inspectors on board the two Japanese whaling factories from one to two, and to respond carefully to the criticisms they made of the conduct of Japanese whaling. U.S. sensitivity to international censure caused the Occupation to encourage the factory vessels to prioritize oil yields over meat and blubber for domestic consumption. Moreover, General Douglas MacArthur, the U.S. Occupation commander, summarily rejected a proposal to increase the number of Japanese fleets from two to three in 1947. With its preponderance of power, the United States successfully promoted Japanese Antarctic whaling, but a tendency to focus only on outcomes obscures the lengthy and difficult processes that enabled Japanese whaling expeditions to take place on an annual basis from late 1946.

James I. Matray