Add to calendar

Menard Family George Washington Forum hosts 'Origins of Capitalism' March 25-26

The Menard Family George Washington Forum hosts a conference on "Origins of Capitalism" at Ohio University on March 25-26, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.


This conference will examine yet again the origins of what Max Weber called “the most fateful force in our modern life,” capitalism.


"Scholarly inquiry into the origins of capitalism dates back to the founding of the social sciences, and the topic is of perennial interest. Why did a radically new form of socioeconomic organization that eventually encompassed and transformed the globe emerge in parts of the early modern world? The question has generated and continues to generate extensive debate across disciplines," said Robert Ingram, professor of history in the College of Arts & Sciences and director of the Menard Family George Washington Forum.


"Our aim is to include as many different approaches to the study of capitalism as possible among the conference presentations and in the subsequent volume that we plan to publish," he added.


This conference will bring together historians and historically oriented social scientists to reconsider the origins of capitalism in the early modern period (c. 1450 to c. 1850). It will include researchers working on all the major world regions—Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas—as well as comparativists and generalists in order to explore the topic regionally, globally and theoretically. In addition to examining the historical emergence of capitalism, the conference will discuss the concepts and categories that are used to grasp the nature and dynamics of this form of socioeconomic organization. 


Plenary lectures will be delivered by Gareth Austin (Cambridge), Sven Beckert (Harvard), Emma Griffin (East Anglia), and Prasannan Parthasarathi (Boston College).


Conference Schedule


Friday, 25 March 2022


Session I (9–10:15 a.m.)

  • Lorenzo Bondioli (Cambridge), Commercial Capitalism, Imperial Taxation, and the Afro-Eurasian Commercial Revolution
  • Kaveh Yazdani (UConn-Storrs), The Biography of Capitalism(s): 10th to 18th Centuries


Session II (10:30 a.m.–noon)

  • C. D. Alexander Evans (Baruch College) and J. Mark Ramseyer (Harvard), Legal Transitions to Capitalism
  • Tracy Dennison (Cal Tech), The Development of Property Rights in Serf Russia: Supply and Demand on the Sheremetyev Estates


Session III (1:45–3 p.m.)

  • Mark Metzler (Washington-Seattle), The Interactive Emergence of Capitalist Trade-Cycle Dynamics in Maritime Asia, 17th and 18th Centuries
  • Ralph Austen (Chicago), Globalization and Colonialism: Early Modern European Overseas Expansion and the Origins of Industrial Capitalism


Session IV (3:15–4 p.m.)

  • Prasannan Parthasarathi (Boston College), Capitalism under Colonialism: South India, 1770-1850
  • Gareth Austin (Cambridge), The Origins and Development of Capitalism in Africa


Saturday, 26 March 2022                            


Session V (9–10:45 a.m.)

  • Philipp Roessner (Manchester) and Julian Goodare (Edinburgh), Before Adam Smith: Scottish Economic Discourse and the Making of European Capitalism, c. 1560-1776
  • Tom Cutterham (Birmingham), In the First Ships: Capitalist Origins in British North America
  • Peter Coclanis (UNC–Chapel Hill), Origin Stories: Expressions and Presentations of Capitalism in Early British America                    


Session VI (11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.)

  • Anirban Karak (NYU), Capitalism, Caste, and Slavery in India: The Abolition Act (V) of 1843 and Its Aftermath
  • John Majewski (UC–Santa Barbara), Education and the Origins of Creative Capitalism in the Nineteenth-Century United States


Session VII (2:15–4 p.m.)

  • Sven Beckert (Harvard), The Global Origins of Capitalism
  • Emma Griffin (East Anglia), Capitalism and Industrial Revolutions in Nineteenth-Century Europe


Conference Conclusion (4:15–5:15 p.m.)



Event Details

User Activity

I would like to register to attend this conference remotely.

I am an Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland who specializes in the history of capitalism.

My email address is

Thank you,
David Sicilia