Gunnar W. Knutsen

What I work on now

My current research is focused on two projects. One is a collaboratory effort to study long-term effects of the Spanish Inquisition, and the other is a monographic study of acquittals in the Spanish Inquisition.

The study of long-run effects of the Spanish Inquisition was suggested to me by Mauricio Drelichman from the University of British Columbia. Together with Hans-Joachim Voth (Zürich) and Jordi Vidal-Robert (Sydney) we are connecting historical data with current data to see if there is any relation between the intensity of inquisitorial trials and current levels of trust, toleration and so on. These latter values vary in modern day Spain, as did the intensity of inquisitorial repression. What we hope to find out is if they are linked. For this we have expanded a historical database of more than 55.000 trials which are now being consistently coded and geocoded with funding from the SSHRC in Canada and from the University of Bergen.

My study of acquittals uses the same database, where there is information (including archival references) on some 5.000 acquittals. My interest in this subject goes back some years, to when I first noticed that there were in fact thousands of trials while the literature suggest almost nobody was ever acquitted.