NIAS Lecture: Walter Scheidel (Stanford University)

It is with great pleasure that we invite you to attend the first NIAS Lecture, which will be delivered by the distinguished historian Walter Scheidel (Stanford University). In his lecture, “Violence and the history of inequality”, he will present new insights into why inequalities are so persistent in societies – and why this situation is unlikely to improve within the near future.

The NIAS Lecture series is born from the belief that academic knowledge from the humanities and the social sciences is more relevant to societies than ever before. In hosting this series of lectures, NIAS provides a platform for renowned scholars to present their ideas about the value of knowledge to the general public.

When and Where

11 April, 16.00
De Waalse Kerk, Walenpleintje 159, Amsterdam
Attendance is free, but registration required (register here).


15.45 Doors open

16.00 Welcome by Jan Willem Duyvendak (Director NIAS)

16.10 Introduction by Jan Luiten van Zanden (Professor of Economic History, International Institute for Social History/ Utrecht University)

16.25 Lecture by Walter Scheidel

17.15 – 18.00 Drinks

About Violence and the History of Inequality

For thousands of years, inequality of income and wealth has been a defining feature of civilization. Only violent shocks have greatly narrowed the gap between rich and poor: mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolutions, state collapse and catastrophic plagues. This lecture examines these processes over the long run of history, and considers the prospects of leveling in today’s more stable world.

About Walter Scheidel

Walter Scheidel is the Dickason Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Classics and History, and a Kennedy-Grossman Fellow in Human Biology at Stanford University. His research focuses on ancient social and economic history, with particular emphasis on historical demography, labour, and state formation. His latest book, The Great Leveler – violence and the history of inequality from the stone age to the twenty-first century was listed as one of the Financial Times Best Books of 2017, The New York Times “Business Books Worth Reading” and BBC History Magazine’s Books of the Year 2017.

About NIAS

The Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences – one of the institutes of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) –provides a physical and intellectual space for advanced research in the humanities and social sciences that is driven by curiosity and cross-discipline collaboration.