CFP: Southern Capitalisms

Jessica Levy's picture
Call for Papers
March 4, 2016 to March 5, 2016
Maryland, United States
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, American History / Studies, Business History / Studies, Immigration & Migration History / Studies, Labor History / Studies

Call for Papers: 

The Johns Hopkins University Graduate Student Conference:

Southern Capitalisms

Date: March 4-5, 2016

Location: The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

Keynote: Bethany Moreton 

Recent years have witnessed renewed attention on the part of historians to questions concerning capital accumulation, market formation, and labor regimes.  Bringing together scholars from a wide range of geographic, temporal, and thematic sub-fields, the new history of capitalism has revisited long-held assumptions about economic development and capital accumulation with an eye towards understanding the ways culture, politics, and markets have intersected to form the basis of a dynamic and highly complex capitalism(s).

Among the contributions made by this new generation of scholars is a re-conceptualization of the spatial trajectory of capitalism. Rather than an economic system emanating outward from the industrialized North, capitalism, as scholars like Edward Baptist and Caitlin Rosenthal have shown, arguably has its roots in the accounting practices and slave labor of the plantation in the American South and the Caribbean. If these works have helped to create space for thinking about capitalism in the South, recent literature on the Sunbelt has raised new questions about the relationship between capitalism and place. Rather than a simple product of geography, many new works have shown how the “South” itself has been constructed and reconstructed with the help of capital.

Reflecting this scholarly moment, this graduate student conference will bring graduate students and faculty commentators together to explore the ways in which the “South” and “Capitalism” have mutually constituted each other across time and space. The conference aims to address several questions, such as: What silences do historians create by focusing on capitalism?  The South? What types of economic and cultural work do geographic categories like “the South” and/or “the Global South” perform in relation to capitalist development? What benefits do concepts like “the South” bring for historians of capitalism? How do space, capital, and power relate and reinforce one another in ways that penetrate and exceed the perceived borders of “the South”? While probing the utility of conceiving of “the South” and people who live there through the lens of capital, this conference also draws on scholarship on “the South” (including “the global South”) to explore capitalism’s limitations.

Along these lines, we invite proposals from graduate students on topics ranging from the following:

  • The linkages between “the South” and the rest of the world
  • Capital networks that rely on and/or constitute south-south linkages
  • The legacies of labor regimes over time and space
  • The commodification of “the South” both as memory and as living place
  • The relationship between space and capital
  • The ways in which questions of identity are mediated through southern capitalisms

Keynote speaker: Bethany Moreton, is a Professor of History at Dartmouth College and series editor for Columbia University Press’s Studies in the History of U.S. Capitalism. She is the author of To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise (Harvard University Press, 2009), which won the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize for best first book in American History, the John Hope Franklin Award for the best book in American Studies, and the Emerging Scholar in the Humanities award from the University of Michigan. Royalties from that book support Interfaith Worker Justice.

Application: Graduate students interested in applying should submit a 500-word abstract and a C.V. to the conference committee at

Limited travel support is available to assist graduate students with travel and accommodation. Preference will be given to those traveling from out of state. When submitting an abstract please indicate if you would like to apply.

For more information, please visit our website at

Deadline for submission: December 24, 2015