Abstract Prof. John F. Haldon
John F. Haldon (Princeton University)
Abstract: States, fiscal systems and the role of the environment
The potential for any state-like political formation to extract, distribute and consume resources of all kinds is essential to its existence as a set of institutional practices as well as to the continued dominance of its elites and the power and authority of its ruling establishment, however constituted. The environmental conditions in which these activities take place are only rarely taken into account, especially when dealing with periods where changes in environmental conditions may have impacted upon state institutions and especially their fiscal arrangements. One good reason for this is that the proxy data from palaeoclimatic studies are rarely precise enough chronologically or in terms of known or potential impacts for historians to deploy them analytically in a way that contributes to a clearer understanding of the causal interrelationships that may have pertained. This paper surveys some of these methodological issues and suggests, by way of some case-studies, possible ways forward.