Injustice and Innovation: The Path of Economic History

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Mar 10
4:00pm - 5:30pm
Barus & Holley, Room 166

The Political Theory Project invites you to join us Friday, March 10 at 4 pm in Barus and Holley, Room 166 for our Janus Lecture -- Injustice and Innovation: The Path of Economic History -- featuring guest speakers Sven Beckert (History, Harvard) and Joel Mokyr (Economics, Northwestern).

What are the different influences upon the path of economic history? What role have historical injustices, such as slavery and colonialism played? How influential were technological innovations and the institutional and cultural conditions that undergird them? In Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy, Joel Mokyr describes the cultural trends that fostered technological innovation during the industrial revolution. In Empire of Cotton: A Global History, Sven Beckert traces the influence of the slave trade on economic development and contemporary patterns of wealth and inequality. Join us for a discussion about how historical injustice and technical innovation have shaped our world today.


Featured Speakers

Sven Beckert, Laird Bell Professor of History, Harvard UniversitySven Beckert, Laird Bell Professor of History, Harvard University

Professor Beckert researches and teaches the history of the United States in the nineteenth century, with a particular emphasis on the history of capitalism, including its economic, social, political and transnational dimensions. He just published Empire of Cotton: A Global History, the first global history of the nineteenth century's most important commodity. The book won the Bancroft Award, The Philip Taft Award, the Cundill Recognition for Excellence and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The New York Times named it one of the ten most important books of 2015. His other publications have focused on the nineteenth-century bourgeoisie, on labor, on democracy, on global history and on the connections between slavery and capitalism. Currently he is at work on a history of capitalism. Beckert teaches courses on the political economy of modern capitalism, the history of American capitalism, Gilded Age America, labor history, global capitalism and the history of European capitalism. Together with a group of students he has also worked on the historical connections between Harvard and slavery and published Harvard and Slavery: Seeking a Forgotten History.

Beckert is co-chair of the Program on the Study of Capitalism at Harvard University , and co-chair of the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History (WIGH). Beyond Harvard, he co-chairs an international study group on global history, is co-editor of a series of books at Princeton University Press on "America in the World," and has co-organized a series of conferences on the history of capitalism. He is a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow. He also directs the Harvard College Europe Program. 


Joel Mokyr, Robert H. Strotz Professor, Northwestern UniversityJoel Mokyr, Robert H. Strotz Professor, Northwestern UniversityJoel Mokyr conducts research on the economic history of Europe, and specializes in the period 1750-1914. His current research is concerned with the understanding of the economic and intellectual roots of technological progress and the growth of useful knowledge in European societies, as well as the impact that industrialization and economic progress have had on economic welfare. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Econometric Society, and the Cliometric Society as well as the Italian Accademia dei Lincei and the Dutch Royal Academy. He has been the President of the Economic History Association, editor in chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History, and a co-editor of the Journal of Economic History. He is currently co-editor of a book series, the Princeton University Press Economic History of the World. He was the 2006 winner of the biennial Heineken Award for History offered by the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences and the winner of the 2015 Balzan International Prize for economic history. His latest book is A Culture of Growth: Origins of the Modern Economy, to be published by Princeton University Press in 2016. He has supervised over forty doctoral dissertations in the departments of Economics and History.