This is the editorial introduction to the HOPE conference volume on the history of development economics. The disciplinary field of development economics has been surrounded by controversies since its inception in the postwar period. Although growth economics and development economics were born around the same time span, they evolved in different ways. Full histories of development economics started to appear in the 1980s, produced mostly by development economists and reflecting their experiences. This has changed in the last two decades or so, as historians of thought have contributed to reinterpret the evolution and divisions within development economics. The HOPE 2017 conference brought together for the first time development economists and historians of thought. The articles collected here reflect the tension between theory and practice and highlight the nexus between the development of specific techniques and approaches and the implementation of policies.

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