Self-Organizing Cross-Imperial Economic Networks
Institutional Empires, 1500-1800
Dr Catia Antunes (Leiden University)
Dr Amelia Polonia (FLUP, Porto University)
When Douglass North brought to the attention of economic historians the importance and influence of institutions for economic development and growth, an analytical revolution ensue. The growing emphasis on the role formal and informal institutions played in Early Modern economics and the extent to which this influence actually determined the rise of the West after the first steps towards the Industrial Revolution became the corner stone of most economic historical works.
The theory by North was able to bring under its umbrella not only economic historians, but also other specialists in Early Modern studies. The idea that institutions were whole encompassing and paramount for social and economic development fit well with the explanatory divide in the literature between absolutist states and parliamentary states, as much as with the dichotomies recognized to the regions influenced by the traditional peasant- or specialization-models. In a time when monopolies of kings, states and chartered companies seem to have been in the forefront of capital accumulation and western expansion, the prominence of institutions became an undeniable fact.
Notwithstanding North’s contribution to the understanding of social and economic processes during the Early Modern period, the last ten years have been characterized by a growing number of studies that have questioned the role played by institutions and the monopolies they sponsored. Specifically centered in the relationship between European empires overseas, there is a growing consensus that most of those empires were profitable and successful due to the intervention of individuals or groups of individuals engaged in the common good of the social and economic networks they served. More often than not, these self-organized, trans-imperial, cross-cultural networks imposed serious challenges to State, Church and Monopolistic institutions, since they were the source of most of the illegal and contraband transactions world-wide, but they were also the ones that within, or in collaboration with the institutions actually became agents of empire building.
This proposal wishes to explore the mechanisms of self-organizing entrepreneurial networks performing against or within the functioning of imperial institutions in Europe, the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans. The participants will emphasize the means, mechanisms and agency of self-organizing networks in these two three specific contexts. The organizers will act as discussants and underline the importance of these complex relationships across empires, stressing the differences and similarities that can be found within these three specific areas.
By putting together specialists focused in different political, religious and cultural backgrounds, this panel of multiple sessions aims to call for a debate on the (in)existence of differences among the modus operandi of Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, British or French representatives, when acting as agents of cross-imperial economic networks. Ultimately, the differences and similarities of colonial projects will be acknowledged as the central conductive rationale behind the self-organizing networks functioned with- or against institutions in the Early Modern period.
Abstracts of max 500 words and a short cv should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org before April 20. Organizers will select the final participants by April 25.
Dr. Cátia Antunes
Department of History
Coordinator MA Europaeum
2300 RA Leiden
Send comments and questions to H-Net
Webstaff. H-Net reproduces announcements that have been submitted to us as a
free service to the academic community. If you are interested in an announcement
listed here, please contact the organizers or patrons directly. Though we strive
to provide accurate information, H-Net cannot accept responsibility for the text of
announcements appearing in this service. (Administration)