Camp Skirmishes Over Interstitial Spaces: Journals, Seminars, Textbooks

Ashwani Saith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


This chapter explores heterodox-versus-orthodox camp rivalries over interstitial spaces that are all too often sidelined, namely journals, seminars and textbooks. In particular, it deals with the loss of the flagship of economics, Economic Journal (EJ), relocated from its de facto long-term home in Cambridge into orthodox neoclassical space in Oxford in 1976; it delves into the formation of the new Cambridge Journal of Economics launched in 1977 by the younger left-oriented Cambridge economists in anticipation of the loss of the EJ and access, as authors, to its pages in the future; and attention is also drawn to the short-lived life of the Economic Policy Review, the carrier of the often provocative macroeconomic policy-oriented research by the Godley-Cripps Cambridge Economic Policy Group. The second interstitial space reviewed comprises the sprawling tree of seminar series stretching over decades. Over time, there was diversification and polarisation in this doctrinally, politically and personally charged space, with rival camps running competitive series for their adversarial constituencies. There was also the lodge-like country-wide CLARE Group of like-minded moderate Keynesians—run by Robin Matthews from Clare College—that could also operate as a lobby on specific issues, and which served as a resource pool of influence brought to bear generally against the positions of the radical left-Keynesian and heterodox groups; and then there was the crucible, or colosseum, of gladiatorial jousting, the Faculty Common Room. Textbooks constitute the third domain. The diversity of Cambridge views on the f/utility of textbook writing stands in contrast to the commitment of Paul Samuelson and his neoclassical followers in the other Cambridge, as well as to the high premium attached by Friedman and Hayek and their neoliberal devotees in Chicago to the popular diffusion of their doctrines. Samuelson succeeded; Chicago did not really compete; and heterodox Cambridge, in the form of Joan Robinson’s short-lived alternative textbook, on the whole fell short in a hostile publishing and university environment dominated by neoclassicals. The contrasting parallel cases of the spectacular success of the Samuelson textbook, the scandalous suppression of the preceding textbook by Lorie Tarshis and the curious survival of Klein’s radical work on the Keynesian revolution provide a case study of the stifling impact of McCarthyism. Put together, the investigations of the wide range of transactions in these interstitial spaces inject texture, nuance and zest into the narratives of the life of Cambridge economics in the period of the purges.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCambridge Economics in the Post-Keynesian Era
Subtitle of host publicationThe Eclipse of Heterodox Traditions
Number of pages119
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2022

Publication series

SeriesPalgrave Studies in the History of Economic Thought

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


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