Magnifying Spaces of Capitalism: a Webinar

Damian Clavel's picture
Subject Fields: 
Business History / Studies, Economic History / Studies, Local History, Political History / Studies, World History / Studies

"Magnifying Spaces of Capitalism: a Webinar"
February 22nd and 24th, 2021
15:00 – 18:00 GMT

The Young Scholar Initiative (YSI) Economic History Working Group and the University of Santiago de Compostela are organizing a two-day webinar on February 22nd and 24th. The theme will be "Magnifying Spaces of Capitalism: A Webinar." It will be divided in two sessions, the first in English (22), the second in Spanish (24).

In the wake of the 2007-08 financial crisis, the world realized the importance of global interdependences and large structural (invisible), naturalized, routinely operated market forces. Sadly, the recent Coronavirus crisis has only confirmed it on an even greatest scale. History may, however, provide us with some tools of understanding for better rethinking the individual, political, environmental, or geographical dynamics underlying past and, perhaps, present macro-economic changes.

This two-day webinar seeks to provide a methodological conversation and an experimental space for the sound confrontation of multiple empirical studies. Putting these together could help paint better images of institutional and structural changes at heart in the development of early forms of capitalism. This event will bring together early career researchers studying the multi-scaled interactions at play between global and individual levels of analysis, and/or the contours of geographies in which these transformations happened. Doing so could provide key insights on current issues. Shedding light on the interactions at play between structural dependences and individual actions over large but nonetheless very concrete geographical and temporal perspectives could, ultimately, provide opportunities to think about how past and current global environment(s) changed.

People interested in attending the event should write to

This webinar also serves as the first step of a larger collective experiment. In March 2021, a group of young historians will tackle these questions from different chronologies and geographies in a workshop organised at Santiago de Compostela, during which they will collaborate together to better understand market forces, spaces, as well as individuals from 20th century Italy to 18th century Manila, and from 19th century India to 16th century Seville.

Monday February 22nd, 2021 – Session in English 15:00 – 18:00 GMT
Chair: Damian Clavel (University of Oxford, co-organizer)

Francesco Maccelli (Università degli Studi di Firenze) Studying Long-Term Evolution of Capitalism using HISCO-based Measures: Italy, 1871-2011
Changes in occupations are key to analyzing changes in capitalistic economy and society. While classical economists emphasized the division of work and its evolution, modern economists look at global changes in labor. To study such changes over time, we need both historical occupational data and procedures to make comparative measurements. The Historical International Standard Classification of Occupations (HISCO) allows us to map occupational titles anywhere in the world, following a common coding scheme. This article applies HISCO-based measures and routines to data from Italian demographic censuses 1871 to 2011. It goes on to investigate the effects of waves of technological change on the division of labor, the sectorial development of the economy, and the class structure and skill levels of labor.

Aniket De (Harvard University) Spaces of Capital, Territories of Nationhood: The Emergence of Economic Nationalism in Colonial India
This paper examines debates on economic nationalism in colonial India at the turn of the twentieth century in relation to the country’s integration in the global capitalist system. In particular, it focuses on the region of Bengal in eastern India, a major jute and tea growing region which had been part of global commodity markets since the late nineteenth century. I study nationalist ideology in Bengal in relation with the flows of global capital in Bengal: how was the region, as a space produced by global capital, refashioned as national territory? How was the relationship between capital and nation expressed by anticolonial thinkers of the time, and what were the sources of their economic ideas? Historians have argued that the idea of “India” as a bounded national space was produced at a specific moment in the history of capital in the late 1880s. My paper, in contrast, argues that the impact of capital in the Indian subcontinent produced wide spatial variations, and produced inequities between “rich” and “poor” regions. This variation, in fact, served to destabilize the idea of India as a homogenous nation space, while regional elites began articulating a federal model of anticolonialism to accommodate multiple nation-spaces.

Sofia Valeonti, (Duke University) International integration and the Gold Approach in the Greenbacks Debate
After the establishment of an inconvertible monetary standard during the United States Civil War, a debate emerged during the Reconstruction period (1865-1877) opposing the defenders of the maintenance of an inconvertible standard and those of a resumption of specie payments. This paper focuses on the gold approach and shows that the coherence of that approach is to be found in its shared vision of economic development. Previous account of the gold approach has treated it as homogeneous in that the adoption of the gold standard along with free trade would have promoted specific economic interests (finance capital), a section (Northeast), a party (Republican) and an economic philosophy (utilitarian liberalism) (Nugent 1967). However, the advocators of the gold approach differed in their trade policy propositions. This can be shown by focusing on the economic thought of Hugh McCulloch and John Sherman – the two secretaries of the Treasury associated with the policies of resumption. Sherman endorsed a protectionist policy, while McCulloch advocated free trade. Their policies of resumption also differed: McCulloch pleaded for a diminution of the quantity of money in circulation, while Sherman preferred to keep the quantity of money stable. This paper aims to explain that no matter their diverging policy propositions, the coherence of their approach is to be found in their shared vision of economic development: U.S. integration of international markets.

Wednesday February 24th, 2021 – Session in Spanish 15:00 – 18:00 GMT
Chair: Francisco Cebreiro Ares (Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, co- organizer)

María Grove-Gordillo (Universidad de Sevilla) El impacto de la industria textil inglesa en Castilla (siglos XV-XVI)
Durante el periodo temprano de los Tudor, los paños ingleses fueron una mercancía muy importante que era exportada a distintas partes de Europa. En esta ponencia vamos a centrarnos en el comercio de este producto hacia Castilla, así como en los agentes que hicieron posible su circulación, destacando el papel de los mercaderes ingleses que actuaron en la Baja Andalucía (Sevilla y Cádiz), a partir de los protocolos notariales, y su relación con otras zonas de Castilla a través de la bibliografía.

The impact of English Cloth Industry in Castile (15-16th Centuries) During the Early Tudor Period, English clothes were a very important commodity that was exported to different parts of Europe. In this proposal we are going to focus on the trade of this product to Castile and on the agents that made possible its circulation, emphasizing the role of the English merchants who acted in the Low Andalusian Area (Seville and Cádiz), through notarial records, and its relationship with other areas of Castile across the bibliography.

Elienahí Nieves Pimentel (Instituto de Investigaciones Dr. José María Luis Mora) Flujos de caudales para la causa monárquica: los donativos de Filipinas y la centralidad de Nueva España en el envío a la metrópoli (1700-1714)
En esta ponencia se presentan los donativos que los vecinos de Filipinas entregaron para auxiliar a financiar la Guerra de Sucesión española. La perspectiva busca conjuntar la lógica imperial de transferencia del situado con los aspectos locales de la recaudación de donativos. El estudio de los flujos de dinero que se conjuntaban en Nueva España puede aportar elementos al análisis de la articulación de los territorios de la Monarquía.

Cash Flows for the Monarchical Cause: Donations from the Philippines and the centrality of New Spain in shipping to the metropolis (1700-1714) This presentation is about the donations that the residents of the Philippines gave to help finance the War of the Spanish Succession. The perspective seeks to combine the imperial logic of transfer the situado with the local aspects about the collection of donations. The study of the money flows that were combined in New Spain can contribute elements to the analysis of the articulation of the Monarchy’s territories.

Pablo Ortega del Cerro (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid) Tras la estela del primer capitalismo global: la Armada española como observadora de los movimientos económicos mundiales (c. 1700-1815)

La Real Armada no solo fue una institución militar, a lo largo del siglo XVIII se convirtió en un privilegiado y enorme centro de recopilación, creación y gestión de información. Este trabajo se centra en la dimensión económica y pretender hacer una valoración inicial y general de la Marina como un observador de los movimientos económicos mundiales. Con este propósito, hay que diferenciar dos roles: por un lado, el apoyo logístico al comercio a través de diferentes acciones; y por otro lado, el encargo de informes económicos y la propuesta de proyectos comerciales, aduaneros o portuarios.

Following the wake of the first global capitalism: the Spanish Navy as an observer of world economic movements (c.1700-1815) The Spanish Navy was not only a military institution; throughout the eighteenth century it became a privileged centre for the collection, creation and management of information. This work focuses on the economic approach and seeks to make an initial overview of the Navy as an observer of world economic movements. For this purpose, two roles must be remarked: on the one hand, logistical support for trade through different actions; and on the other hand, the commissioning of economic reports and the proposal of commercial, customs or port projects.

Contact Info: 

Francisco Cebreiro Ares, University of Santiago de Compostela

Damian Clavel, University of Oxford