Genesis. Journal of the Società Italiana delle Storiche; Anna Bellavitis and Monica Martinat (Web)
Proposals by: 01.03.2022
Inequalities have always been present in human societies in various ways. They are at the very foundation of hierarchies of wealth, prestige, honour and culture…, but also at the basis of those ideologies that legitimize or condemn them, in general and in particular.
The problem is at the forefront of the agendas of many historians and economists, who may either look at the more or less distant past, or take into account the present and future outlooks. To mention but a few works that have enjoyed widespread attention, one can think of, for example, the recent volume by French economist Thomas Picketty who, starting from a harsh critique of current capitalism and its contradictions, considers directly and explicitly the theme of equality and its history (Picketty, 2021). Similarly, historian Walter Scheidel’s work, published a few years earlier (2017), pays particular attention to when and why the curve of inequality has turned in the history of human societies. The 2019 annual conference of the Datini Institute in Prato, dedicated to economic inequalities in pre-industrial societies was explicitly inspired by these two works. The aim in this case, was to address from more specific and local perspectives the same theme which is rightly considered a central issue in the contemporary debate (Nigro, 2020), to which during the same conference, legal historian Aldo Schiavone made an important contribution, by tackling the legal implementations that accompany inequalities over time (Schiavone 2019).
These studies all have in common a certain indifference towards gender inequalities which admittedly have always been present in history, also from an economic point of view. This silence implies, among other things, a deformation of the general perspective of the analyses: the history of the path towards equality seems to concern exclusively the male gender without questioning the validity and legitimacy of analytical and political viewpoints that evaluate the world as more or less just, regardless of the substantial inequality between men and women, which is taken so much for granted as to become (once again) invisible. A long- or very long-term perspective and the attention to (macro)economic aspects of inequality further unites these studies. Read more … (PDF)