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Keith Tribe

Don’t let the title put you off: this book is not purveying social theory but investigates the historical process by which economics became a university discipline in Britain, focusing on how that event changed the nature of economic knowledge. It thus mixes intellectual and institutional history of the highest quality. ‘Constructing’ in the title refers to the cover image of the model built by Vladimir Tatlin and his colleagues of his planned 400-metre tower. Tatlin was a ‘constructivist’ in the sense of the Russian art movement that needed engineers not philosophers. The tower was never realised, much like the ambitions held for economics by Alfred Marshall, its champion at the University of Cambridge, c.1885–1908, who sits at the centre of this book.

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A year or so after I had begun my work in the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, the immortal words of 'Ern Malley', 'The emotions are not skilled workers', bored a hole into my brain, dug around a bit, and settled there as a perpetual irritant. Malley's phrase has an oblique genealogy. Coined by James McAuley and Harold ...