In the fall of 2005, Professors Sven Beckert (FAS, Dept. of History) and Christine Desan (HLS) initiated a new graduate student-faculty research seminar on the Political Economy of Modern Capitalism. The workshop aimed to provide a forum for the intensive interdisciplinary study of capitalism with particular attention to it as an historically situated process of regulating social relations. The topic is unparalleled in importance. As a political economic form, capitalism defines not only market dynamics, but governance structures and social relations. The study of its growth and development therefore attracts scholars from a wide variety of fields, and we believe that their contributions can powerfully stimulate mutual insight.
Program for 2013-2014:
Labor in the Political Economy of Modern Capitalism
In 2013-2014, the Workshop will focus on the theme of labor under capitalism. As the study of the history of capitalism has rapidly expanded in recent years as a field of reeseach and teaching, studies of consumption, business elites, management practices and economic policy making have increasingly become dominant. The question how massive numbers of workers have been mobilized to do the harvesting, digging, manufacturing, and servicing that is at the core of capitalist economic activities and how they have responded to their position within capitalist economies has become marginalized. This is in many ways surprising, not least because for many scholars, the advent of wage labor defines capitalism itself. This year, the Workshop tried to address some of these shortcomings of the debates on capitalism by focusing on labor and production.
The workshop meets on Monday afternoons at 4:00 PM at the Law School in Lewis 214A. Please join the Program on the Study of Capitalism's email announcement list for the latest updates and information on the Workshop and other events and activities of interest on campus.
The current syllabus for the course is available here.
Schedule of Speakers:
Oct. 28: Suresh Naidu, SIPA, Columbia University: “The Economics of Unfree Labor in the Nineteenth Century”
Commentators: John Womack, Harvard University; Zachary Nowak, American Studies, GSAS
Nov. 11: Shaun Nichols, Harvard University: “Making Crisis Work: Migrant Labor, Mobile Capital, and the Creation of an Industrial Regime in Massachusetts”
Commentator: Andrew Gordon, Harvard University; Sam Heppell, Harvard Law School
Nov. 25: Ed Baptist, Cornell University: “Towards a Political Economy of Slave Labor: Hands, Whipping-Machines, and Modern Power”
Commentator: Norberto Ferreras, WIGH Postdoctoral Fellow, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil; Mycah Conner, History, GSAS
Feb 10: [JOINT MEETING with the Global History Seminar]
Cindy Hamamovitch, William & Mary: “Coolies by Another Name? Colonial Labor, Guest Workers, and the End of Empire”
Commentator: Emmanuel Akyeampong, Harvard University
Feb. 24: Steven Hahn, University of Pennsylvania: “Gilded Age Capitalism”
Commentator: Alexander Keyssar, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Liat Spiro, History, GSAS
March 10: Ken Kawashima, University of Toronto: “On the Method and Concept of Surplus Populations in the Thought of Karl Marx and Uno Kozo”
Commentator: John Trumpbour, Harvard Trade Union Program, Harvard Law School; Nicole Summers, Harvard Law School
March 31: Nancy Folbre, UMass Amherst: “The Rise and Decline of Patriarchal Capitalism”
Commentator: Nancy Cott, Harvard University; Cristina Groeger, History, GSAS
April 14: Allessandro Stanziani, Centre de Recherches Historiques, EHESS: “Bondage in Eurasia, Seventeenth to early Twentieth Century”
Commentator: TBD; Balraj Gill, American Studies, GSAS
Please join the Program on the Study of Capitalism's announcement email list to receive information about the Workshop and other events and activities at Harvard.
For more information on upcoming sessions, please check the calendar.
Many student research papers have gone on to be published, a partial list of this research is available here.