Graduate Workshop on the Political Economy of Empire
Cambridge, UK, 4 November 2006
Imperial studies is currently one of the most thriving subfields of the historical profession, integrating economic and political history with the history of science, of exploration, and of cultural encounters. The eighteenth century saw a conflux of these themes in the parallel formalisation and institutionalisation of political economy on the one hand, and the expansion of European dominion overseas on the other; political economy was in many ways the midwife of modern imperialism. The aim of this Graduate Workshop was to invite graduate students from the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe to study the political economy of early modern empires.
While exploring the intellectual origins and multifaceted theoretical manifestations of political economy was certainly an important emphasis of the workshop, it also encouraged the study of its actual implementation, and of the ways in which European imperialists organized and understood their economic encounters with exotic lands, their resources, and their inhabitants. How were colonies and plantations integrated into existing social, political, economic, and cultural structures, and how did they, in turn, come to change these structures?
The workshop took place in Cambridge, UK on 4 November, 2006 with gracious support from the Faculty of History and the Centre for History and Economics. The organisers are currently planning a publication of the Workshop papers.