Six months ago I posted a “progress report”, What I am working on. Since then a lot of things happened.
First, I finished writing my trade book, previously titled A History of the Near Future. As expected, the publisher didn’t like it, so the new title is The Wealth Pump: Ruling Elites and the Path of Political Disintegration. I finished the complete draft in June (right on schedule), but then there was a bunch of lose ends to take care of. As a result, the book went into production in August. The tentative publication date is June of next year. There is still a lot of work to do on it, but it will be largely done by other people. The biggest job for me will be to go over the copy-editor’s suggestions, and then approve the galleys, which will not take a lot of time. This leaves me time to switch to other projects, on which below.
Second, I am now an emeritus at the University of Connecticut, as of July 1. This means I am done with teaching college students, but I will continue teaching a regular Winter School in Austria, similar to what I did this year. Well, because of Covid, a winter school evolved into a spring school: CSH Spring School on the Evolution of Social Complexity 2022. Next year, 2023, Winter School will take place in a retreat in the Alps in January. There will be an announcement about it during the second half of September. But the main upshot is that now I have only one regular job, as a project leader at CSH, which simplifies my life a lot.
Third, I had a vacation-adventure, the first one in three years. I went to several national parks in the Zambezi-Okawango region. I’ll probably write more about it on this blog, but here are two pictures, taken by a friend:
At a water hole in Hwange National Park
Stretching after a long early morning game drive
Fourth, the Seshat project has published most of the papers analyzing what we started calling the Classic Seshat, which focused on data that enable us to test a variety of theories attempting to explain the evolution of complex human societies during the Holocene (roughly, past 10,000 years). I consider it a huge accomplishment, a result of more than a decade of work by a large research network associated with the Seshat Databank. I’ll write more on this in a future post. I am also now in a good position to finish my book, The Great Holocene Transformation, which I hope to do by this winter.
This Fall I am collaborating on a bunch of analyses and articles, led by my colleagues in Vienna and elsewhere. But the major thrust is on CrisisDB. We have gathered data on more than 100 past societies sliding into a crisis, and then emerging from it. A lot of data-cleaning remains, but we are now shifting the effort into analyzing these data. As our societies continue sliding into the ongoing “polycrisis” this work seems to be more relavant than ever.