Obituary Prof. Josep Pujol (1956-2019)

On October 22, in the midst of a storm, Josep Pujol left us. He was a doctor in Economics and professor of Economic History at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, where he developed for over 40 years his academic career.

Prof. Pujol was born in April 1956 and was proud of being a son of the Poble Sec neighborhood in Barcelona. He was a brilliant student and a political activist during his university years. His doctoral thesis, defended in 1988 with the title “The transformations of the Catalan agrarian sector, between the end of the 19th century crisis to the Civil War”, marked the beginning of a fruitful academic life, becoming professor of Economic History and Institutions in 1995. The Spanish Association of Economic History recently acknowledged him with the 2019 prize to the Academic Trajectory, awarded last September in the city of Ávila in a moving ceremony.

As an academic he participated in teaching, research and management activities. As a teacher, Josep Pujol contributed to the formation of many generations of students at the Economics faculty, stimulating their critical spirit in the courses of Economic History, also in the Masters’ and Doctoral courses. He was vice-dean and secretary of the Faculty of Economics in 1995-99 and 2005-2010 and directed the Unit of Economic History from 2010 to 2016. He also had varied responsibilities in professional associations and academic journals, like the Asociación Española de Historia Económica y la Sociedad Española de Historia Agraria.

Special mention deserves his profile as a researcher in the field of contemporary agricultural history, the history of food, and the history of the standards of living. His research incorporates knowledge from different disciplines to Economics, in the frontier of the Economic history analysis.

His rich research trajectory started around contemporary agricultural history, focusing on the connection between the world market and the agricultural sector. He contributed to the development of a new methodological framework at the international level to analyze technological change. In particular, he focused on the role of biological innovations in the evolution of agrarian systems and food patterns, themes that were marginal until then in Spanish and European research. Since 1989 he started a new research line on living standards, integrating biological and demographic variables, and the diffusion of scientific knowledge, in the analysis of the evolution of economic indicators.

His leadership and dedication to the six consecutive research projects he was involved in, was remarkable. He also participated in the organization of several national and international conferences. These projects show his research audacity and his capacity to integrate researchers from different disciplines. His work has been published in many specialized Spanish and international journals

Josep Pujol was an academic with a great vocation for research and an ample view of the problems analyzed, making compatible theoretical rigor and the need for collected evidence.  An example is the dataset NISAL, including multiple indicators of living standards for 19th and 20th centuries, of which he was very fond of. This dataset well exemplifies his conviction of the need for providing researchers and the general public, with access to the results of the research projects.

His colleagues will miss his capacity, vitality, temperamental character, frankness, irony and compromise.

Unidad de Historia Económica de la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona

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