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Alain Bresson

Biography and Interests: 

Alain Bresson

Title: Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor, Associate Member in the Department of History
Education: Doctorat d'État Besançon 1994
Office: Wieboldt 119
Areas of Specialization: Ancient economy, Asia Minor, epigraphy, numismatics

My current research is focused on the ancient economy. In terms of data, I use all the documents available (literary sources, inscriptions, papyri, coins, archaeological data) to investigate a given topic relating to the ancient economy.  My research is developed in the framework both of the standard categories of economics (capital, labor, technological level) and of the New Institutional Economics paradigm, with a special interest in the evolution of institutions as a major factor of economic development.

With David Schloen, Glen Weyl and Gary Herrigel I  have organized in the framework of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society the “Working Group on Comparative Economics.”

For 2013–2014, the topic of our investigations was “The Boundaries of the Firm”, which has allowed us to test the Coasian paradigm of the opposition between firm and market in a transhistorical and transcultural perspective. In 2014–2015, the program will be devoted to bound labor (slavery and other forms of work under constraint).

In collaboration with François Velde (Chicago) and Elio Lo Cascio (Rome), I am preparing as co-editor a New Oxford Handbook for the Economies of the Ancient World. I am also writing a book on the logic of coinage in the ancient world (Why coinage?) to be published by Oxford University Press.

I also publish regularly on the history, epigraphy and numismatics of various regions of the ancient world, especially Asia Minor. In collaboration with Askold Ivantchik I am preparing a new corpus of the inscriptions of Phrygian Apameia.

My most recent classes and seminars include “Ancient views of the economy” (2012), “Xenophon’s Poroi” (2014),  “Law and the city in Athens and in Rome” (2012–13, co-taught with Cliff Ando), “Ancient Sparta: the crisis of a city-state” (2013),  I have also taught classes of general history for undergrads, and classes of epigraphy for both undergrads and grads (“The Rhetoric of ancient Greek Inscriptions,” 2013).

I have chaired the department of Classics from July 1st 2011 to June 30 2014 and I will be on leave in 2014–2015.

Recent Books:

  • 2015. The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy: Institutions, Markets, and Growth in the City-States. In press at  Princeton University Press (updated translation from the French edition 2007–2008)
  • 2007. With A. Ivantchik, eds. Une koinè nord-pontique. Bordeaux: Ausonius.
  • 2006. With M.-P. Masson, S. Perentidis and J. Wilgaux, eds. Parenté et société dans le monde grec de l’Antiquité à l’âge moderne. Bordeaux: Ausonius.

Selection of Recent Articles (2011–2014):

  • 2014. “Capitalism and the Ancient Greek economy.” In L. Neal and J. Williamson, eds. The Cambridge History of Capitalism. Vol. 1. The Rise of Capitalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 43–74.
  • 2013.  “Polybius and the Economy.” In V. Grieb and C. Koehn, eds., Polybios und seine Historien, Stuttgart: Steiner, 269–284.
  • 2013. “The chōrai of Munatius Hilarianus or Neapolitan Phratries as collegia.Mediterraneo Antico 16: 203–222.
  • 2012. “Greek Epigraphy and Ancient Economics.” In J. K. Davies and J. Wilkes eds., Epigraphy and the Historical Sciences. Oxford: Oxford University Press for the British Academy, 223–247.
  • 2012. “Wine, Oil and Delicacies at the Pelousion Customs.” In L.-M. Günther and V. Grieb, eds. Das imperiale Rom und der hellenistische Osten. Festschrift für Jürgen Deininger zum 75. Geburtstag. Wiesbaden: Steiner, 69–88.
  • 2012. “Painted Portrait and Statues: Honors for Polystratos at Phrygian Apameia.” In K. Konuk, ed. Stephanèphoros. De l’économie antique à l’Asie mineure. Hommages à Raymond Descat. Bordeaux: Ausonius, 203–219.
  • 2012. “Le marché des philosophes: Platon, Aristote et la monnaie.” In V. Chankowski and P. Karvonis, eds. Tout vendre, tout acheter. Structures et équipements des marchés antiques. Bordeaux: Ausonius, 365–384.
  • 2011. “Grain from Cyrene.” In Z. Archibald, J. K. Davies and V. Gabrielsen, eds. The Economies of Hellenistic Societies, Third to First Centuries BC. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 66–95.