My last post left a few loose ends, so let me clarify and amplify. First, Albert Hirschman is very much with us, although in failing health. He could not attend yesterday's event in his honor, although his wonderful wife Sarah Hirschman and many members of the Hirschman family were there. It was a treat to hear from Sarah Hirschman the story of Albert crossing the Pyrenees on foot disguised as a shepherd, fleeing the Nazis. Such was his love of literature that he had to have a book by Montaigne in his pocket. So much for the disguise had he been stopped and searched!
The occasion was the presentation of the Albert O. Hirschman Prize, which the Social Science Research Council, under the leadership of Craig Calhoun, has established to recognize scholarship in the tradition of Hirschman. The selection committee, consisting of Barry Eichengreen, Arminio Fraga, and Al Fishlow, must have been under the influence of something quite strong, as it was their collective wisdom that the prize should go to me.
This was a great opportunity to reacquaint myself with Hirschman's work, and to understand how Hirschmanesque some of my own work is (I guess I can now say this without sounding too pompous). It was also an enjoyable evening with not only the Hirschman family and the SSRC community, but also with some old friends. Aside from the members of the selection committee, Ron Findlay, Jose Antonio Ocampo, Roman Frydman, and Peter Dougherty were there, as was Eric Maskin--the most unassuming Nobel laureate you will ever meet. Eric, by the way, now occupies Hirschman's old chair at the Institute for Advanced Study.
Which brings me to the question of the Nobel Prize for Hirschman. I think Hirschman's contributions have been greatly under-appreciated within economics, and that goes a long way to explain why he has not won a Nobel. If the Nobel was given for impact on social sciences more broadly, Hirschman would have clearly won a long time ago. But who know, there is still some time...
A few people have asked to see my lecture. I have only a powerpoint, but Roman Frydman has promised to have it turned into a Project Syndicate piece, so stay tuned.
UPDATE: Please read the correction from Sarah Hirschman.
UPDATE2: A short version of my presentation is now available here.