RIVISTA DI STORIA ECONOMICA
ITALIAN REVIEW OF ECONOMIC HISTORY
The Rivista di Storia Economica-Italian Review of Economic History (RSE-IREH) was established in 1936 by Luigi Einaudi (1874-1961), one of the most prominent (liberal) economists in Italy and more, because the government had shut down La Riforma Sociale, which he was then editing, as it was not sufficiently aligned with the Fascist regime. Einaudi had a keen interest in economic history, and the Rivista was a way to pursue his academic (and, indirectly, political) agenda in an illiberal environment. Einaudi published the Rivista until 1943, when he had to flee the country; he did not resume its publication after the War, as he was successively appointed Governor of the Bank of Italy (1945), Finance Minister (1947, the independence of central banks being unheard of in those years), and President of the Italian Republic (1948).
A new series of the Rivista was started in 1984, as a personal initiative of two then youngish scholars, Gianni Toniolo, of the University of Venice, and Pierluigi Ciocca, of the Research Department of the Bank of Italy. In the forty years since the end of the first series, the world of economic history had changed profoundly. It was taught in most economics curricula in the West (and also, with a totally different approach, in socialist countries) and, in the wake of the cliometric revolution, the most novel and exciting research employed economic theory and econometrics to explore the big issues in economic history. Italy’s economics departments had a long tradition of teaching economic history, and many exponents of “the Italian tradition” reacted quite negatively to these methodological innovations. In their first editorial statement, Ciocca and Toniolo invoked Einaudi’s methodological stance as a compromise. They made six points: i) economic history is a specific subject, neither history nor economics; ii) it requires (the thoughtful use of) economic theory; iii) quantification and statistical analysis are not strictly necessary, but they help a lot; iv) economic facts can be explained by non-economic causes; v) the relevance of issues, sometimes with an eye on the contemporary situation, is an important criterion for selecting good articles; vi) the task of the economic historian is to explain, and not just describe, economic events. The second series of the RSE-IREH has been published continuously since 1984, under the stewardship of the founding editors. It has fulfilled their original agenda quite well, publishing important papers on Italian economic history, as well as forays in comparative history. Bibliometric measures show quite a high impact for a national journal from a ‘quasi-peripheral’ country with an unsupportive academic environment.
Recent developments have made some further changes necessary. The RSE-IREH has been a victim of the success of its internationalization agenda. While many Italian economic historians remain unconvinced of the virtues of the Einaudi approach, a small but growing group is now publishing research in leading international economic history journals. This is surely to be welcomed, but it has deprived the RSE-IREH of some of the best output of Italian researchers. Thus, the members of the editorial board of the RSE-IREH have decided to set up the Associazione di Storia Economica (ASE), to appoint a new team of editors and to transfer publishing rights to the new association. The new editors spelled out their policy in the opening statement of the 1/2016 issue of the RSE-IREH. In essence, they hew to an “Einaudi Line” in their approach, envisaging “a pluralistic methodology, one in which measurement and formal models are complemented by an interest in the full range of sources, multiple causation, and institutional detail.” Since 2021, the RSE-IREH has been included in the Scopus database. This achievement represents a significant step ahead for the RSE-IREH, since Scopus is acknowledged, along with Web of Science, as the most important database for evaluating the impact of journals, articles, and researchers.
At the last annual meeting (September 2021), ASE announced Michelangelo Vasta as the new editor in chief. As stated in the Editor's Note, the 1/2022 issue presented some novelties: first, the subtitle Italian Review of Economic History was added to the original name, to make clearer to the readers and/or potential contributors that the journal aims at an international audience. Second, the graphic style was renovated, by changing the colour of the cover (now sky blue) and the page size to improve the readability of the text, figures and tables. Third, the RSE/IREH will entirely be published in English, and all contributions will receive a process of double-blind peer review by at least two anonymous referees. Additionally, RSE-IREH expanded its social media presence through the activity of a Twitter account (@RivStoriaEcon). Finally, a new advisory board was appointed, merging the two previous boards, including additional scholars, and improving the gender balance.
Regarding the editorial policy of the RSE/IREH, in the note the editors committed to follow the line set out in the 2016 editorial note: “our aim is simply to publish high-quality papers dealing with economic history”. The RSE/IREH will continue its promotion of research with an interest in history for its own sake and its pluralistic approach to economic history, without bias as to topics, historical periods, geographical areas, and methodologies. While economic historians and economists will remain the core constituency of the RSE/IREH, the board hopes to speak to scholars across the social sciences, and invites contributions that draw on disciplines ranging from demography to geography, political science, biology, physics, sociology, archaeology, management, and the history of science and technology.
Particular attention will of course be given to articles dealing with Italian economic history. However, contributions focusing on other geographical areas are encouraged. As for the type of articles, the RSE/IREH welcomes a range of approaches. While articles presenting new historical data represented a traditional strong point of the journal, the RSE/IREH solicits also other types of original research articles, including surveys and speculations, and critical book reviews. Finally, the board is committed to providing authors a fast, transparent review process and promise a first decision within 60 days of submission.
Editor in chief:
Michelangelo Vasta (University of Siena)
Carlo Ciccarelli (University of Rome Tor Vergata)
Brian A’Hearn (Pembroke College, University of Oxford)
Francesco Cinnirella (University of Bergamo)
Anna Missiaia (University of Gothenburg)
Leticia Arroyo Abad (City University of New York)
Jutta Bolt (University of Groningen)
Marco Cattini (Bocconi University, Milan)
Alfonso Herranz-Loncán (University of Barcelona)
Elio Lo Cascio (Sapienza University of Rome)
Marco Magnani (Bank of Italy)
Paolo Malanima (Magna Graecia University of Catanzaro)
Giangiacomo Nardozzi (Polytechnic University of Milan)
Laura Panza (University of Melbourne)
Joan Roses (London School of Economics)
Blanca Sánchez-Alonso (CEU-San Pablo, Madrid)
Gianni Toniolo (LUISS, Rome)
Francesca Trivellato (IAS, Princeton)
Jacob Weisdorf (Sapienza University of Rome)
Nikolaus Wolf (Humboldt University Berlin)