Home » Departments and Centres » History and Civilization » Research & Teaching » Seminars » 2nd term 2019-2020 » New Histories of Capitalism

New Histories of Capitalism

Research Seminar

Organised by Prof. Regina Grafe and Prof. Glenda Sluga 
Registration code: HEC-RS-HISCAP-19
Tuesdays 11:00-12:50, Sala del Torrino

Starts on 7 January 2020
Admin. Assistant: Laura Borgese


Enrolled participants only

Seminar description

In the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007-08 and the sovereign debt crisis of 2009-13, renewed debates about capitalism returned the study of economic life, ideas, actors and institutions to the forefront of historical analysis of how the modern world was made. This course will traverse these debates and diverse methodologies, sampling some of the different ways in which historians of early modern and modern Europe are asking and answering the question: ‘when did capitalism become the dominant mode of socio-economic organisation and how has it changed the course of the world?’ We will discuss key themes in new histories of capitalism, with a focus on economic ideas, institutions and actors, and on their national and transnational settings. The seminar will also ask how the relation between polities and markets developed across periods of increasing and decreasing global integration. The point of this course is to practice thinking and writing historically.



7 January: Introductory meeting

14 January: Re-Defining Capitalism

Presentation by Olav Hofland and Ana Maria Spariosu 

  • Kocka, J. and J. Riemer (2018). Capitalism: a short history. Princeton; Oxford, Princeton University Press., pp. 1-7
  • Beckert, S. and C. Desan (2018). American capitalism: New histories. New York, Columbia University Press, introduction.
  • David Graeber, "Against Economics", review of Robert Skidelsky’s Money and Government NYRB, dec 3 2019. 
  • Phillipon, T. (2019). The Great Reversal. How America Gave up on Free Markets. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press., pp. 1-25, 80-96, 99-111, 124-149.

21 January: Economic Life and the origins of capitalism?

Presentation by Sebastian Majstorovic, Jack Watkins and Vuk Uskokovic

  • Trivellato, F. (2009). The Familiarity of Strangers. The Sephardic Diaspora, Livorno and Cross-Cultural Trade in Early Modern Europe. New Haven, Yale University Press,Introduction.
  • Rothschild, E. (2014). "Isolation and Economic Life in Eighteenth-Century France", in American Historical Review 119(4): 1055-1055.
  • Burns, K. (1997). "Nuns, kurakas, and credit: The spiritual economy of seventeenth‐century Cuzco", in Colonial Latin American Review 6(2): 185-203.

28 January: The Corporation and the Company 

Presentation by Lucile Boucher, Dennis Kölling and Ludwig Pelzl

  • Primary Source: Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (1776), IV.1.31-33 and V.1.104-119.
  • Stern, P. J. (2013). "'Bundles of Hyphen'. Corporations as Legal Communities in the Early Modern British Empire", in Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500-1850, NYU Press: 21-48.
  • Muthu, S. (2008). "Adam Smith's Critique of International Trading Companies: Theorizing "Globalization in the Age of Enlightenment", in Political Theory 36(2): 185-212.
  • Clulow, A. (2014). The Company and the shogun: the Dutch encounter with Tokugawa Japan. New York, Columbia University Press, (chapter 6, Planting the Flag in Asia).

4 February: Money, Banks and Stock Exchanges

Presentation by Daniel Banks, Giorgio Ennas and Augusto Petter

  • Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Manuel du Spéculateur a la Bourse (1857) [any section]. Online
  • Walter Bagehot, Lombard Street, a description of the money market (1873) [any section] 
  • Spang, R. L. (2017). Stuff and money in the time of the French Revolution. Cambridge, MA, Harvard Univ. Press, introduction.
  • Irigoin, A. (2009). "The End of a Silver Era: The Consequences of the Breakdown of the Spanish Peso Standard in China and the United States, 1780s-1850", in Journal of World History 20(2): 207-243.
  • Christine Desan, Making Money: Coin, Currency, and the Coming of Capitalism (2014), introduction.
  • Marc Flandreau, Anthropologists in the Stock Exchange: A Financial History of Victorian Science (2016), chapter 5.

11 February: Slavery and Capitalism

Presentation by Pablo Cañón García, Asensio Robles Lopez and Moises Fernandez Cano

  • Williams, E. E. (1961). Capitalism & Slavery. New York, Russell & Russell., pp. 135-36, 145-53.
  • Burnard, T. and G. Riello (forthcoming). "Slavery and the New History of Capitalism" in Journal of Global History 15.
  • Alison Frank, “The Children of the Desert and the Laws of the Sea: Austria, Great Britain, the Ottoman Empire, and the Mediterranean Slave Trade in the Nineteenth Century,” American Historical Review 117, 2 (2012): 410-444
  • Beckert, S. “Slavery and Capitalism” Chronicle of Higher Education 2014.
  • Kris Manjapra, “Plantation Dispossessions: The Global Travel of Agricultural Racial Capitalism,” in Sven Beckert and Christine Desan, American Capitalism (2018).

18 Febraury: Law, Contracts, Institutions

Presentation by Daphné Budasz, Daniel Litwin and Sophie Schiettekatte

  • Birla, R. (2009). Stages of capital: law, culture, and market governance in late colonial India. Durham NC, Duke University Press, chapter 1.
  • Ghislaine Lydon, On Trans-Saharan Trails: Islamic Law, Trade Networks, and Cross-Cultural Exchange in Western Africa (Cambridge, UK, 2009), chapter 6.
  • Johan Mathew, Margins of the Market: Trafficking and Capitalism Across the Arabian Sea (Oakland, CA, 2016), chapter 3.
  • Katharina Pistor, The Code of Capital: How the Law creates Wealth and Inequality, chapter 6. (Available online)

25 February: A Global Economy

Presentation by Guus Wieman and Ian Murray 

  • Quinn Slobodian, “How to See the World Economy: Statistics, Maps, and Schumpeter's Camera in the First Age of Globalization”, in Journal of Global History, 10,2 (2015), 307-322.
  • Patricia Clavin, “The Austrian hunger crisis and the genesis of international organization after the First World War,” in International Affairs, 90, 2 (2014): 265 - 278.
  • Vanessa Ogle, “Archipelago Capitalism: Tax Havens, Offshore Money, and the State, 1950s-1970s,” in American Historical Review 122, no. 5 (December 2017): 1431-1458.
  • Daniel Speich, “The Use of Global Abstractions: National Income Accounting in the Period of Imperial Decline,” in Journal of Global History 6, 1 (2011): 7–2.

3 March: No Class

14 April (via Zoom): Economic Non-State Actors

Presentation by Marta Alorda Carreras,Yunus Arican and Kasper Eriksen

  • Primary Source: Organization Meeting of the International Chamber of Commerce: Proceedings Organization Meeting, June 23-30, 1920. ICC Headquarters, Paris. Accessed February 11, 2013. [Access online]
  • Kelly, D. (2005). "The International Chamber of Commerce" in New Political Economy 10(2): 259-271.
  • Rosenberg, E. (2003). Financial missionaries to the world: the politics and culture of dollar diplomacy, 1900-1930. Durham NC, Duke University Press, chapter 4.
  • Clavin, P. (2017) “Men and Markets: Global Capital and the International Economy” in Sluga, g and Clavin,P Internationalisms.

17 April (via Zoom): Neoliberalism and its alternatives

Presentation by Rasmus Andersen, Carlos Martins and Felipe Souza Melo

  • Primary Sources: UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966 (available online); UN Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order, 1974 (available online).
  • Eichenberger, P. (2019). "The eternal rebirth of the liberal creed: Alternative temporalities of Swiss neoliberalism." Journal of Modern European History, 17(4), 390–395.
  • Quinn Slobodian, (2018) Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism (Harvard, 2018), chapter 6.
  • Tehila Sasson, “Milking the Third World? Humanitarianism, Capitalism, and the Moral Economy of the Nestle Boycott,” in American Historical Review 121 no. 4 (2016): 1196-1224.
  • Jessica Whyte, Morals of the Market (2019), chapter 2.





Page last updated on 22 April 2020