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VUB PhD Student receives Iris Forrester Prize for Excellence of London School of Economics

VUB alumnus and former student representative Yannis Skalli-Housseini has been awarded the Iris Forrester Prize for Excellence for his academic performance at the Department of International History of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where he graduated from the MSc Empires Colonialism and Globalisation with a distinction and one of the highest aggregates. After his year in London he has returned to the VUB, where he joined research group HOST as a PhD student on the project 'Fiscal policy and social inequality in the 18th century Austrian Netherlands (1749-1794)', supervised by prof. dr. Wouter Ryckbosch. Yannis is very happy to return to his Alma Mater, “especially the department of history, that has made me into the historian I am today”.


Yannis will study the social effects of taxation in the early-modern period. He likes to quote the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter who wrote the following words some hundred years ago: “The spirit of a people, its cultural level, its social structure (…) all this and more is written in its fiscal history, stripped of all phrases. He who knows how to listen to its message here discerns the thunder of world history more clearly than anywhere else.” 

Fiscal policy and history have become fashionable once again thanks to economists like Thomas Piketty. Yet much remains unknown about the social effects of taxation in early-modern societies. How regressive were fiscal systems? And when did economic inequality become an issue for governments, if at all? What were, in short, the origins of, and obstacles to, equitable taxation in the modern world.