Dr. Roni Hirsch


Areas of specialization:Political theory, history of economics, American political development, markets and justice


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 I am a political theorist working on social justice, history of political-economic thought, and financial regulation. I received my PhD from the Department of Political Science at UCLA (2017), where I wrote a dissertation on the “market for risk” as it was shaped by early-twentieth-century financial thought and institutions. This historical moment, I argued, should be understood within the wider context of the distributive politics of risk, from Adam Smith’s economic theory to the 1980s environmental justice movement. In addition to the Polonsky Academy Fellowship, I am a research fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. Previously, I was a postdoctoral fellow in Markets, Ethics, and Law at the Safra Center for Ethics at Tel Aviv University (2017-18), and a Resident Fellow at the Center for the History of Political Economy at Duke University (Spring 2017).

My main book project, Who Profits, looks at the rich history of the concept of profit and its diverse definitions since the eighteenth century, focusing on the role of profit in shaping new capitalist protagonists from the wage laborer to the entrepreneur. The manuscript compares profit in the labor theory of value—an inherently limited motor of productivity—to its twentieth century counterpart: a limitless source for individual enrichment. In addition, I am developing a second book-length manuscript titled The Price of Risk. In this book, I study American financial markets in the interwar years as the site where competing models of markets vied for hegemony in the work of regulators, practitioners, and theorists. The project focuses on the rise of the futures exchange as a modern day “coincidence of opposites,” dividing humanity into its risk-averse and risk-taking elements and justifying broad transfers of wealth from the former to the latter.