Springe direkt zu Inhalt

Dr. Aaron Benanav

Humboldt Universität zu Berlin


Georgenstraße 23
10117 Berlin

Aaron is a historian of 19th- and 20th-century global history, working on issues of international economic development, economic statistics-making, global governance, and labor-market policy. Aaron’s current research focuses on the role international institutions such as the UN, ILO, and OECD have played in generating and disseminating statistical concepts of employment, unemployment, and informality since 1945. Aaron earned his PhD in modern European and international history from UCLA in 2015. Before joining SCRIPTS, he was a Harper & Schmidt Fellow and a Collegiate Assistant Professor in the Social Sciences Division at the University of Chicago.

Research Interests

  • Global History
  • International Labor and Working Class History
  • International Economic Development
  • Comparative Studies of the Welfare State
  • Employment and Unemployment
  • Economic informality
  • Labor Markets and Employment Structures
  • Industrialization and Deindustrialization
  • Global Supply Chains
  • Global Demographic Transitions
  • The History of Economics
  • The History of Statistics

Current Research projects at SCRIPTS

Aaron’s current project, “A Global History of Unemployment”, follows a network of liberal economists and statisticians working at international agencies. These actors tried to operationalize their visions of full employment not only in the global North, but also in the global South. Aaron’s book shows that this framework entered crisis earlier than is typically supposed. Rising unemployment levels already proved difficult to remediate in countries like Brazil and Kenya in the early 1960s, before similar crises began to unfold in the US, France, and Germany. Statisticians and policymakers tried to rise to this challenge, but efforts to publicize the true extent of unemployment around the world were undermined by the emergence of new forms of irregular work, conceptually orphaned between unemployment and full employment. In a context of persistently high unemployment, governments began to encourage workers to take the sorts of precarious jobs that statisticians were struggling to measure.

  • Benanav, A., 2020. Automation and the Future of Work, Verso Books, London.
  • Benanav, A., 2019. ‘The origins of informality: the ILO at the limit of the concept of unemployment’. Journal of Global History, 14(1), pp.107-125.
  • Benanav, A., 2019. ‘Demography and Dispossession: Explaining the Growth of the Global Informal Workforce, 1950-2000’. Social Science History, 43(4), pp.679-703.
  • Benanav, A., 2019. ‘Automation and the Future of Work-2’. New Left Review, 120, pp.117-146.
  • Benanav, A., 2019. ‘Automation and the Future of Work-1,’ New Left Review 119, pp. 1-34.
  • Benanav, A. and Clegg, J., 2018. ‘Crisis and Immiseration: Critical Theory Today’ in B Best, W
  • Bonefeld, and C O’Kane (eds), SAGE Handbook of Frankfurt School Critical Theory, Sage Publications, London, pp. 1629-48.