Organisers: Dr. Christof Dejung / Dr. Niels P. Petersson
Date: 26th to 28th June 2008
Place: University of Konstanz, Germany
Deadline: 12th January 2008
AIM OF THE CONFERENCE
Literature on economic globalisation between 1850 and 1930 focuses primarily on the development of the volume of foreign trade between various nation states. Only rarely was this period examined from the perspective of economic actors below the nation state and by explicitly studying the role of the institutional framework which shaped – and was shaped – by their enterprises. Our conference will address these issues, bringing together scholars from economic and business history, global and world history, and history of law.
Recently, there has been a growing interest in how institutions – i.e., rules, norms, regulations and organisations – evolve, especially in settings beyond the nation state. In this context, intercontinental trade is a topic of particular relevance because it is associated with high transaction and information costs. These costs can only be overcome by transnational institutions or hierarchical organisations which make interaction predictable and contracts enforceable. At the same time, intercontinental trade has always been a highly politicised issue, which enables us to study the development of institutions and economic integration within their – political, cultural, social – context.
The conference will bring together scholars from different parts of the world to investigate these topics for the period between 1850 and 1930. World trade expanded quickly in the decades up to the First World War, both in quantity and in geographic reach. This expansion was supported by the expansion of the power of the industrialised countries in the age of imperialism and by the development of new rules and institutional forms that held together ever more complex trading networks. The war disrupted these networks and increased the importance of the state in economic affairs. In the post-war years, new public and private forums concerned with the improvement of economic institutions were installed, such as the League of Nations and the International Chamber of Commerce. Multinational companies were forced to build up new business networks by creating joint ventures with local partners. Institutionalisation did not, therefore, decline, but it changed its shape and purpose in the face of changing circumstances.
It is the aim of the conference to examine how and under what circumstances economic integration developed in two key periods in the history of globalisation, 1850-1914 and 1918-1930. Two questions will be addressed in particular:
- Which actors were most prominent in the creation of norms and institutions for global trade, what were their interests, coalitions, conflicts, and patters of action?
- To what extent should the First World War be seen as a watershed, dividing a period of rapid transnational integration from one of laborious, precarious, and ultimately failed reconstruction, and to what extent or in what areas can a continuity between the two periods be discerned?
Possible topics to be presented at the conference are:
- the integration of world trade from below through norms, rules, networks and institutions created by traders and their associations
- the development of a transnational mercantile culture
- standards and technical norms
- monopoles, trusts and cartels as forms of de facto-control over a market
- strategies and internal organisation of multinational firms
- the emergence of stock and goods exchanges and of globally operating banks and insurance companies and their effect on world trade
- early global governance: states, international organisations and the creation of internationally binding laws, rules and standards
PROPOSAL SUBMISSION AND TIMELINE
"Please send an abstract of your proposed paper (max. 2 pages) and a brief CV to Christof Dejung firstname.lastname@example.org and Niels Petersson email@example.com.
We are happy to answer any questions you might have before sending in a proposal. Successful applicants will be contacted before end of January 2008. To facilitate discussions at the conference, participants will be asked to submit draft papers for pre-circulation by 24th May 2008.
The conference language is English. A publication of selected conference papers is planned. We are very pleased to announce that Prof. Harold James (Princeton University) will be a key note speaker at the conference.
The conference is supported by the Centre of Excellence "Cultural Foundations of Integration" at the University of Konstanz. The conference organisers are working to secure additional sponsorship, but participants should be prepared to meet part of their travel and accommodation costs in case we are unsuccessful.
Dr. Christof Dejung
University of Konstanz
Department of Modern History
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