Introduction to the Sraffa Archive

Sraffa’s archival material, consisting of over 30,000 pages of content, is housed at the Wren Library, Trinity College, University of Cambridge. It is arranged according to the Wren Trinity convention under the following ‘macro’ conceptual structure of sections:

A. Personal and Family Papers

B. Academic Career

C. Correspondence

D. Notes, Lectures, and Publications

E. Diaries

F. Memoirs of colleagues

G. Publications by others

H. Bibliographical and manuscript interests

I. Items removed from printed books

J. Miscellaneous

Most of the recent literature on Sraffa’s archive consults D: Notes, Lectures, and Publications, and to a lesser extent C: Correspondence, E: Diaries, and I: Items removed from printed books.  Section D is the most complex and itself divides into three subjections, D1: Notes, D2: Lectures, and D3: Publications.  A partial breakdown of this section is in the following table:

Section D: Notes, Lectures, and Publications
D1: Notes (1923-63) (92 sub-groupings)
D2: Lectures (1927-43) (8 sub-groupings)
D2/1: Lecture notes on economic theory

D2/2: ‘The corporative state’, given to ‘Keynes Club’

D2/3: ‘Revalorization of the lira’, given to Emmanuel Economic Society

D2/4: Lecture Notes on the Advanced Theory of Value

D2/5: Lectures on continental banking

D2/6: ‘Il banchieri fiorentini nel 200’

D2/7: Two lectures on Italian problems…

D2/8: Lectures on Industry

(n.d)

(1927)

(3 Nov 1927)

(1928-31)

(1929)

(14 May 1929)

(1941-43)

(1941-43)

D3: Publications (1920-73) (14 sub-groupings)
D3/1: L’Inflazione monetaria in Italia durante e dopo la Guerra

D3/2: ‘The Bank crisis in Italy’, Economic Journal (EJ)

D3/3: Untitled article on the economics of fascism

D3/4: Obituary of Maffeo Pantaleoni

D3/5: ‘Sulla Relazione fra costo e quantita prodotta’

D3/6: The Laws of returns under competitive conditions, EJ

D3/7: ‘Increasing returns and the representative firm: a symposium’, EJ

D3/8: ‘An alleged correction of Ricardo’. QJE

D3/9: ‘Dr Hayek on money and capital’, EJ

D3/10: ‘Money and capital: a rejoinder’, EJ

D3/11: The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo

D3/12: Production of commodities by means of commodities

D3/13: ‘Production of commodities by means of commodities: A Comment’, EJ

D3/14: ‘Produzione congiunta di merci a mezzo di merci. Riposta a Manara’

(n.d)

(1922)

(1923)

(1924)

(1925)

(1926)

(1930)

(1930)

(1932)

(1932)

(1930-1973)

(1927-1967)

 

 

 

(1962-67)

(14 May 1929)

D3/12 Notes on Production of Commodities contains 115 file folders and around 7000 mostly handwritten pages which are archived according to Trinity as D3/12/1 through D3/12/115.

Sraffa’s archival material was subject to an initial inventory and two subsequent independent arrangements, one of which is the Wren Trinity arrangement presented above.  Chronologically-speaking Wren Trinity is the later version and the one that archival scholarship uses as its standard convention (Kurz 2009, p.268).  Before this there were two separate efforts directed to the papers, the inventory of 1974-5 made by Alessandro Roncaglia and John Eatwell, and the catalogue made in the mid to late 1980s by Krishna Bharadwaj and Pierangelo Garegnani.  The history of cataloguing the Sraffa Papers will be the subject of the next posting.

References

Kurz, H. 2009, Preparing the edition of Piero Sraffa’s unpublished papers and correspondence, Cahiers d’économie Politique / Papers in Political Economy vol. 2, no. 57, 261-278

Open email to Sraffa Scholars and others interested worldwide announcing Digital Sraffa Online Project

Email below sent on August 29, 2016 announcing the Digital Sraffa project:

Dear Sraffa Scholars and others interested worldwide,

This email is bcc’d to over 230 Sraffa scholars and others interested in the archival legacy of the Italian Cambridge Economist Piero Sraffa. Please free free to forward this to anyone, as well as post on various blogs, etc.

My name is Scott Carter, Associate Professor of Economics at The University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. I am happy to announce a project of mine called the Digital Sraffa. This is one of three independent projects that deals with Sraffa’s archival material, the other two being (i) the Selections project under the guidance of Heinz Kurz, et. al., and (ii) the online project led by Giancarlo de Vivo and his colleagues charged with putting the entirety of the archive on the web. As I say in my blog (see below), we may be from famine to feast in relatively short order! So interested scholars get ready!

I am very excited about these other two projects and their impending release and will certainly ensure that the Digital Sraffa interfaces nicely with them so that interested scholars will be able to navigate through the 3 different projects with relative ease.

My project is specific to the section of the Sraffa papers archived as D3/12; these are Sraffa’s Notes on Production of Commodities (PCMC).  This section is the heart of the archive in my opinion, and amounts to 115 file folders and over 7000 mostly handwritten pages.

I am happy to report that I have a complete color digital copy of all of the content in D3/12 – all 115 file folders and 7000+ pages, and the Digital Sraffa is the electronic interface of this material in its entirety. If and when allowed to be uploaded on the web, it is to be set in a user-friendly environment thus allowing for easy searching and downloading of these color images by scholars everywhere as it is my hope to be able to provide complete and unfettered access to this material worldwide. The images were taken with a handheld Canon Powershot and saved as JPEG files.  Each individual piece of archive is its own file, which means that with the Digital Sraffa people will be able to sort and search the material in D3/12 robustly according to various conventions as well as how they please.

There are many beautiful aspects of the Digital Sraffa, one of the main ones being that with the entirety of the material available as complete color images a mere click away, the overall meta-structure of the archive can be better understood. It is important to emphasize that since my project focusses on the larger meta-dimensions of the material in D3/12 only, it is a complement to the other Sraffa archive projects. In a word, here for the first time Sraffa’s archival material on PCMC can be studied as a complete organic text absent of the interpretational issues that scholars who are not fortunate enough to make their way to the Wren Library, Trinity College Cambridge, often must ford in their study of and interests in the objective content of Sraffa’s notes.

My work is meant to provide a bridge to D3/12 for interested scholars so that they can easier connect their work and that of others to the objective content of the material in the archive.  Believe me, as somebody who has had the privilege to study this material as a complete organic text using digital files which can be (re)assembled and sorted (unlike study at the Wren Reading Room where scholars are given one or two files at a time), I assure you the material in D3/12 is very fertile intellectually and subject to different but often no less valid interpretations.  After all, Sraffa himself said his book was only a Prelude; in my opinion the Prelude needs to be drawn to a close, and let the symphony truly begin! This will best happen in my opinion once interested scholars everywhere are able to access the material in its entirety, and read the content of the material on its own merit thereby making their own minds up as to the significance and ready-to-be-unleashed potentiality contained in those notes. Then scholars can see for themselves the amazing process whereby this brilliant mind winnowed-down these 7000+ pages into a monograph on the pure theory of value and distribution of less than 100 pages.

I am also happy to announce my blog, dubbed Heretical Sraffa: Furtive Thoughts on Economics and Economic Theory.  This will be devoted to the endeavor and I will be blogging on many aspects of section D3/12 of the Sraffa Papers. The blog can be found at the website:

http://www.sraffaarchive.org and also there is my twitter account

https://twitter.com/HereticalSraffa

I will be blogging on this matter from now on; there is so much I have to share with those interested in understanding the structure and overall content of the section of Sraffa’s archival material devoted to Notes on PCMC archived as D3/12.

Please note that I look forward to developing the positive and constructive aspects of the material in D3/12; accordingly any criticisms I may have with other scholars will be amicable ones of substance regarding the theory and material. I hope that this is reciprocated by scholars critical of my work and efforts.

I look forward to the future of Sraffa scholarship. We are at a very exciting time and I know that the majority of Sraffa scholars will be very happy to know that perhaps the material will be made available for unfettered scientific study in short order.  Making such happen is my major impetus and motivation.

Kind Regards,

Scott Carter

Sraffa’s archival material is a gift to the science of economics

Perhaps what makes me the consummate Heretic has to do with my opinion that Sraffa’s archival papers belong to the science of economics, and anyone who wishes to read them should have the right to do so in their entirety. This above all motivates my efforts now and in future work.

As of this writing there are three projects in the works devoted to making Sraffa’s archival material available to the world.  They are:

  1. The long awaited Selections project under the guidance of Heinz D. Kurz as General Editor
  2. The online effort led by Giancarlo de Vivo in which the entire archive is to be put on the web
  3. My project called The Digital Sraffa which is an electronic arrangement on a searchable platform of color digital images of all of Sraffa’s Notes on his book Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities (PCMC).

The beautiful thing is that in relatively short order we will be moving from famine to feast regarding Sraffa’s archival material…so interested scholars be ready! It is important that the various projects be understood if the end goal is a better understanding of the content of Sraffa’s archival material.

The Digital Sraffa project of mine is intended to make available to all scholars digital color copies of the entirety of Sraffa’s notes on PCMC, consisting of 115 file folders and over 7000 pages of mostly handwritten material, archived according to the original Trinity convention as D3/12.  This amounts to a subset of the material that is to be put on the web under the (unrelated) de Vivo project.  The way I have approached the 115 files in D3/12 is to understand the entirety of the material as a complete organic text. Scholars will be able to search and sort the material however they want.  The gold standard for the way I envision making the material accessible to the general scholarly community is the way Sraffa himself approached his edition of Ricardo in the eleven volumes of The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardospecifically the way in which Sraffa wove the various letters from the different correspondents in Volumes VI, VII, VIII, and IX, and also the way he made his Index in Volume XI.

Indeed, when we consider the way Sraffa arranged the Ricardo letters, we see that not only is every letter numbered, but also that each letter tells the reader the correspondent and letter to which it is a reply as well as the correspondent and letter that replies to it.  In essence Sraffa conceived of the Ricardo Correspondence as a collection of what we would now call discussion threads by, from, and to the various correspondents.  In my opinion this is a very advanced way to think of the matter indeed, and it is Sraffa’s own methodology in the treatment of his Ricardo that motivates my arrangement of Sraffa’s Notes on PCMC. And when considering the Index in Volume XI, well in my opinion it remains a masterpiece of indexing and serves as the basis of the ideal manner in which the indexing of Sraffa’s own archival material should be approached.

I will be making many posts on The Digital Sraffa in the future in an effort to bring this vision to fruition and thereby make the material available to all scholars; such is one of my main goals in this endeavor.

Sraffa’s archival material is a gift he gave to the science of economics. The focus should be on getting all of the material into the hands of interested scholars in a user-friendly manner so that people can finally read and study the entirety of the material for themselves, thereby allowing for a more general dialogue to finally ensue.

Course: ECON 3243 – Comparative Heterodox Theories of Value, Price, Distribution, and Growth

This semester I will be teaching an undergraduate course in the Economics Department at The University of Tulsa called ‘ECON 3243: Comparative Heterodox Theories of Value, Price, Distribution, and Growth’.  We put this course on the books and in our curriculum to provide our majors and other interested students with the theoretical traditions in heterodox economic theory as part of our effort to make the Economics Major at Tulsa broad and deep.

Previously the course used a hodgepodge of books including Pasinetti (1977),  Foley & Michl (1999) and Kurz & Salvadori (1995).  Of course since this is an undergraduate course it was accompanied by many (often handwritten) lecture notes and original powerpoint slide shows. As interesting as these books are, it is not the rigor that works against them in terms of continued use for an undergraduate course but rather the fact they are dated.

Which is why when the new book by Anwar Shaikh (2016) entitled Capitalism came out, well I immediately thought of adopting it for this course.  And after reading and working through portions of it, I have decided to do exactly that.  The course begins August 23 and goes through the fall semester.

Professor Shaikh and his colleagues have created a very thorough website for the book.  It is at www.RealECon.org .  There you can find all sorts of information, including a discount code for an already inexpensive book, chapter-by-chapter video streamed lectures by Anwar, and all of the data.  Also you will find a forum for my course here:

http://realecon.org/threads/prof-carters-course-comparative-heterodox-theories-of-value-price-distribution-and-growth/

I am in the process of writing the syllabus and the plan is to cover at least ten chapters.

Chapter 1 of the book is an introduction that summarizes the content of the subsequent chapters.  Accordingly students are to read and re-read that Introduction and follow it along as we work through the individual chapters,  We plan to keep it simple and do a chapter every week or so. The tentative outline is:

  • Chapter  1 – read throughout semester
  • Chapters 2 though 10
  • Chapter 12 and as far as we can get after that (13, 14, and 15 would be ideal)

Everyone is welcome to keep up with the chapter readings and participate in the discussion.  I will of course not require my students to take part in such a public forum but will encourage them to do so, and certainly will have them follow any posts and discussion threads that may come about.

As part of teaching the course, powerpoint slide shows will be made as well as assignments and exams, all of which will be made available to anyone interested, including professors who may want to send their own students to the site.

Like Professor Shaikh’s new book, we are embarking on new terrain here.  Ideally we can try and get a ‘global dialogue’ for anyone serious about following through the book this semester.

One final disclaimer: all of the material that I post is my own responsibility, although it will be based of course on Shaikh’s book.  No doubt there will be some bugs to work out as we move forward but in all this endeavor is very exciting and it will be interesting to see where it all goes and how it all unfolds.

 

References

  • Foley, D. & Michl, T. (1999). Growth and Distribution. Harvard University Press
  • Kurz, H. & Salvadori, N. (1995). Theory of Production: A Long Period Analysis. Cambridge University Press
  • Pasinetti, L. (1977). Lectures on the Theory of Production. Columbia University Press.
  • Shaikh, A. (2016). Capitalism: Competition, Conflict, Crisis. Oxford University Press.

Welcome to Heretical Sraffa

Welcome to my blog, Heretical Sraffa: Furtive Thoughts on Economics and Economic Theory.  Just a bit about myself.  My name is Scott Carter and I received the PhD in Economics from The New School for Social Research after having studied there in the 1990s and early 2000’s.  My current position is Associate Professor of Economics at The University of Tulsa (TU).  Our department at TU is undergraduate only and we strive to provide majors with deep and broad approach to economic theory. Accordingly in our department neoclassical and mainstream theory is taught alongside ecological, environmental, and heterodox theories. Graduates leave prepared (hopefully) for graduate work and/or work in the public and private sectors.

I am also a member of the Steering Committee for the Union for Radical Political Economics (URPE).  URPE is a great resource for heterodox-leaning economists and has a rich history;  in 2018 we approach 50 years of scholarship, research, pedagogy, and organizing around Radical Political Economics. One of the areas that we have been active in lately is to organize whole sessions of URPE panels at various professional academic conferences: the ASSA (URPE@ASSA; a presence we have had since the late 1960s), the Eastern Economics Association (URPE@EEA which we have organized for a decade, the last program being here) , and now the Southern Economics Association (URPE@SEA which this November enters its second year; note I will get to people the upcoming URPE@SEA program soon).

My research interests concern Marxian political economy and the economic theory of Piero Sraffa; here is a nice intellectual-biographic article on Sraffa written by Alessandro Roncaglia.  Notice I did not say ‘Sraffian’ because these days that connotes its own approach to Sraffa. My approach is different, although not necessarily incompatible, with many of the approaches to Sraffa that abound, including the orthodox Sraffian.  So to be as to as clear as possible that these postings, musings, and analyses of Sraffa and related themes are my own, the moniker ‘Heretical Sraffa’ dons this blog.

My primary research interest concerns the unpublished archival notes of Piero Sraffa.  I am especially interested in the Sraffa’s notes on his book, Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities: Prelude to a Critique of Economic Theory. These notes are archived according to the original Trinity convention as D3/12 and consist of 115 files of mostly handwritten material.  There will be a plethora of such posts on Sraffa’s archival material over the course of this blog.

I addition to this blog there is my account at the twitter handle Scott Carter@HereticalSraffa.