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Workshop: Using History to Inform Development Policy

The World Bank

A recent trend has scholars linking current development policy debates closely with historical research. Thanks to the Open Agenda Initiative and the Access to Information Policy adopted in 2010, the World Bank's vast storehouse of archival material - dating from its inception in the 1940s - offers new frontiers for bringing historical research to bear on the World Bank's practices and policies and on the evolution of development policy.

Organized by the Archives, Development Economics (DEC) and Legal Department of the World Bank, the "Using History to Inform Development Policy" workshop will bring together World Bank staff, outside scholars whose research has benefited from the opening of archives of the World Bank and other international agencies, and the development community. Through a combination of case studies and thematic papers participants will explore how history strengthens the effectiveness of development work and discuss the benefits of using methodological tools from different social sciences - a mixture of narrative techniques and economic analysis.

Sections will focus on three main themes: the early years of the World Bank Group and the elaboration of its ideas and practices; the various dimensions of Bank-client relationships, including lending and advice on development policy; and the influence of donors and shareholders on the thinking and practice of the World Bank. Geographical coverage extends from India to Egypt with a particular focus on Sub-Saharan Africa.

An overview of the workshop is available in the Workshop Summary.

The workshop is also a showcase to present the holdings of the World Bank archives, a vast repository of primary documents not only on the institution but also on the history of the member countries and development policy, and to explore future opportunities of collaboration with international scholars and archivists.

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