Reports from China: Joan Robinson as Observer and Travel Writer, 1953-78

Center for the History of Political Economy at Duke University Working Paper Series

33 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2021

See all articles by Mauro Boianovsky

Mauro Boianovsky

Universidade de Brasilia

Gerardo Serra

University of Manchester; London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Date Written: September 20, 2021

Abstract

Joan Robinson’s infatuation with Mao’s China remains the most controversial episode of the Cambridge economist’s life. Drawing on the literatures on observation in science and economics, and economists’ travels, we aim at overcoming the dichotomy between Robinson as a ‘political pilgrim’ and as a ‘development economist’. Instead, we take a closer look at her observation practices, her literary choices, and her position within different political and intellectual communities. The structure of the paper is quasi-chronological: each trip to China is described in its own right, but also treated as an entry point to shed light on a particular aspect of Robinson’s engagement with the country.

Keywords: Joan Robinson, China, travel writing, observation, communities, socialism

JEL Classification: B24, B31, B50

Suggested Citation

Boianovsky, Mauro and Serra, Gerardo and Serra, Gerardo, Reports from China: Joan Robinson as Observer and Travel Writer, 1953-78 (September 20, 2021). Center for the History of Political Economy at Duke University Working Paper Series, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3927379 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3927379

Mauro Boianovsky (Contact Author)

Universidade de Brasilia ( email )

Brasilia, DF 70910-900
Brazil

Gerardo Serra

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, N/A M13 9PL
United Kingdom

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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