ATHENS — The Menard Family George Washington Forum is to host a conference on the “Origins of Capitalism” at Ohio University on March 25-26, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

The conference will examine yet again the origins of what Max Weber called “the most fateful force in our modern life,” capitalism.

“Scholarly inquiry into the origins of capitalism dates back to the founding of the social sciences, and the topic is of perennial interest. Why did a radically new form of socioeconomic organization that eventually encompassed and transformed the globe emerge in parts of the early modern world? The question has generated and continues to generate extensive debate across disciplines,” Robert Ingram, professor of history in the College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Menard Family George Washington Forum, said.

The conference is to bring together historians and historically oriented social scientists to reconsider the origins of capitalism in the early modern period (c. 1450 to c. 1850).

It is to include researchers working on all the major world regions — Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas — as well as comparativists and generalists in order to explore the topic regionally, globally and theoretically.

In addition to examining the historical emergence of capitalism, the conference is to discuss the concepts and categories that are used to grasp the nature and dynamics of this form of socioeconomic organization.

“Our aim is to include as many different approaches to the study of capitalism as possible among the conference presentations and in the subsequent volume that we plan to publish,” Ingram added.

Plenary lectures are to be delivered by Gareth Austin from the University of Cambridge, Sven Beckert from Harvard University, Emma Griffin from East Anglia University, and Prasannan Parthasarathi from Boston College.

Conference Schedule

Friday, March 25, 2022

Session 1 (9–10:15 a.m.)

• Lorenzo Bondioli (University of Cambridge), Commercial Capitalism, Imperial Taxation and the Afro-Eurasian Commercial Revolution

• Kaveh Yazdani (University of Connecticut — Storrs), The Biography of Capitalism(s): 10th to 18th Centuries

Session 2 (10:30 a.m.–noon)

• C. D. Alexander Evans (Baruch College) and J. Mark Ramseyer (Harvard University), Legal Transitions to Capitalism

• Tracy Dennison (California Institute of Technology), The Development of Property Rights in Serf Russia: Supply and Demand on the Sheremetyev Estates

Session 3 (1:45–3 p.m.)

• Mark Metzler (University of Washington-Seattle), The Interactive Emergence of Capitalist Trade-Cycle Dynamics in Maritime Asia, 17th and 18th Centurie

• Ralph Austen (University of Chicago), Globalization and Colonialism: Early Modern European Overseas Expansion and the Origins of Industrial Capitalism

Session 4 (3:15–4 p.m.)

• Prasannan Parthasarathi (Boston College), Capitalism under Colonialism: South India, 1770-1850

• Gareth Austin (University of Cambridge), The Origins and Development of Capitalism in Africa

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Session 5 (9–10:45 a.m.)

•Philipp Roessner (University of Manchester) and Julian Goodare (University of Edinburgh), Before Adam Smith: Scottish Economic Discourse and the Making of European Capitalism, c. 1560-1776

• Tom Cutterham (University of Birmingham), In the First Ships: Capitalist Origins in British North America

• Peter Coclanis (University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill), Origin Stories: Expressions and Presentations of Capitalism in Early British America

Session 6 (11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.)

• Anirban Karak (New York University), Capitalism, Caste and Slavery in India: The Abolition Act (V) of 1843 and Its Aftermath

• John Majewski (University of California — Santa Barbara), Education and the Origins of Creative Capitalism in the Nineteenth-Century United States

Session 7 (2:15–4 p.m.)

• Sven Beckert (Harvard University), The Global Origins of Capitalism

• Emma Griffin (East Anglia University), Capitalism and Industrial Revolutions in 19th Century Europe

Conference Conclusion (4:15–5:15 p.m.)

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