The Lewis Lab is born!

The Arthur Lewis Lab for Comparative Development, University of Manchester

update (21/09/2022): The official website is now up and running!

The Arthur Lewis Lab for Comparative Development (in short: the Lewis Lab) is an new interdisciplinary research group primarily based in the Department of Economics which is part of the School of Social Sciences of the University of Manchester, but also includes members from the across the university, such as the History Department and the Alliance Business School. It will start its activities in September 2022. It will promote a series of activities over time. Most immediately, it is my pleasure to announce that the inaugural Lewis Fellow: a 3-year postdoc position which will open for applications around October 2022 (part of our job market season recruitment, 2022-23). This is intended to be a position where the successful candidate will be hired to start with us from August 2023 and stay with us for 3 academic years. Anyone interested in the lab’s themes who will be on the job market in the coming Fall is welcome to apply. If all goes well, more such positions may open in the future.

An official website will be coming online soon. The lab will promote research about comparative development and historical political economy from an empirical, long run perspective. It will contribute to implementing and communicating key aspects of the University’s research strategy in an unique way not currently offered.

Anyone interested in hearning about our Lab’s activities, please subscribe to the mailing list for this blog using the box on the right. In the future, we will create a dedicated mailing list for the Lab – following the launch of the Lab’s website, which is in progress. But for now, lab annoucements (such as conference info, seminars, etc) will happen in this blog.

The aim is to become a world-leading brand of critical mass for the study of comparative development, leveraging our association with the late Nobel laureate Arthur Lewis who worked on these themes. The lab will contribute towards the University’s social responsibility agenda, namely through the development of policy-relevant development research relating to  Sustainable Development Goals. The lab will also contribute to the university’s research and discovery core goals.

The Lab will provide a structure to secure and manage external funding in the broad field of the study of comparative long-run development, a field that is disparately distributed across a number of disciplines and groups in the university and which would benefit from more systematic interaction. Last but not least, it would provide a supportive environment for PGR students and postdocs to have meeting and networking opportunities.


The initial team is highly interdisciplinary and will composed of the following.

  • Leadership responsibility:
    • Co-directors: Nuno Palma and Akos Valentinyi
    • Deputy director, treasurer, summer school & research workshop organizer: Guillaume Blanc

Other faculty members:

  • From the Economics department: Caitlin Brown, Alessia Isopi, Abhishek Chakravarty, Xiaobing Wang, Mazhar Waseem
  • From the History department: Edmond Smith, Georg Christ, Phil Roessner, Aashish Velkar
  • From the Alliance Business School: Catherine Casson, Emiel Jerphanion, Stefan Petry, Bart van Ark

Additionally, temporary affiliates of the University, such as current PhD students and postdocs, will also be part of the Lab during their stay with us. For example, this coming September they will include Jubril Animashaun (Teaching Associate), Hélder Carvalhal (postdoc), Meng Wu (postdoc), Adrien Nicholas Gachet (PhD student), Carlos Javier Charotti (PhD student).

There will be also external lab members from nearby universities in England. Initially, they will include Thilo Huning and Andrea Papadia from York, Luz Marina Arias from Sheffield, Sean Bottomley from Northumbria, and Brian Varian from Newcastle. If you are reading this and would like to join us, feel free to write. We hope that lab members will be able to join us for the conferences and seminars. These will likely be well attended, given the overlapping intrests of other university members, such as colleagues who are part of the Centre for Economic Cultures and the Global Development Institute (GDI).

In addition, a small advisory board of honorary members of the lab will also be eventually appointed. This will increase the visibility and prestige of the lab, and they will provide advice and occasional collaboration. They will also visit us to give talks.


The Lewis Lab will include a 3-year postdoctoral position entitled The Arthur Lewis Postdoctoral Fellowship. The inaugural position will be funded by the Manchester School. Pending the evolution of the Lab’s revenues upon foundation, it may become a recurring position (i.e. openning for new candidates every 3 years).

Additionally, the Lewis Lab will organize:

  • A weekly lunch gathering with its members
  • An annual conference with a prominent keynote speaker, and hopefully funding for all graduate students and postdocs presenting
  • An annual summer school offering a week-long generic comparative development class taught at the undergraduate level and a separate graduate-level methods class combined with a 2-day workshop.
  • An annual research workshop where junior researchers will present their research and get feedback from senior discussants, possibly with a series of asssociated lectures and/or keynote.
  • A seminar series will also be innaugurated this year. For now it will happen three times per semester, a frequency that may be extended in coming years pending on future revenue streams and other factors. It will run on Wednesday evenings not coinciding with department meetings or the Manchester Economics Seminar (MES). In any case, the Macroeconomics seminar, which happens Tuesdays, or the Applied Economics seminar, which happens Thursdays, or the Economics Brown Bag seminar (lunchtime Wednesdays) will also occasionally have presentations by economic historians or others working on comparative development topics of interest to Lewis Lab members. For example, this year Devesh Rustagi (Nottingham) will give the Applied seminar on 29 September, Gedeon Lim (HKU) on October 20, and Jonathan Chapman (Bologna) will give it on the 24th of November.

The inaugural Lewis Lab seminars of the 2022-23 academic year will happen about once a month on Thursdays at 5pm. This academic year they will be given by:

Brian Varian from Newcastle (October)

Richard von Glahn from UCLA (October). Richard will be visiting us as Hallsworth Visiting Professor during the month of October.

Luz Marina Arias from Sheffield (November)

John J. Wallis from Maryland (January)

Sean Bottomley (February)

Thilo Huning from York (March)

Edmond Smith from Manchester (April)

Melanie Xue from LSE (May)

Xiaobing Wang from Manchester (June)

Each seminar will be followed by drinks and dinner. Please check the official Lewis Lab website which has now been launched for the latest updates.

All the Lab activities will surely be revised as time goes by, given the budgetary constraints and the Lab’s expanding activities. The Lewis Lab will be actively managed by its leadership team and ambitions to advance the SoSS strategic objectives in terms of both research and social responsibility impact. Research on comparative development with insights from fields such as Economics, Political Science, and History has shown that today’s global inequalities have roots sometimes going back centuries into the past. A genuinely interdisciplinary approach gathering researchers in from these fields can lead to a deeper and more fundamental understanding of the important questions at stake. The lab’s activities will facilitate this, in the spirit of the Nobel Laureate Arthur Lewis, who was himself a pioneering  interdisciplinary scholar.

1st October 1979: The Nobel Prize winner for Economic Science, Sir Arthur Lewis. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

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