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Week 3. Global Economic History and Capitalism

Tutor: Maxine Berg

The publication of Kenneth Pomeranz’s The Great Divergence in 2000 started an important debate about the differing economic and social trajectory of Asia and Europe since the Middle Ages. It also provided new impetus for economic history to rethink its questions in a global framework. Whilst some embraced comparative and connective methodologies and emphasised qualitative factors, others developed large-scale comparative analyses based on the systematic gathering of GDP, price and wage statistics. More recently the new field of global economic history has come to reflect on other important questions among which are the meanings and connections of capitalism and slavery, and the importance of understanding inequality from a historical point of view.

- Which are the main problems and issues raised by global economic history?
- In what ways is global economic history different from the existing discipline of economic history?
- What are the issues of The New History of Capitalism?

-Discuss connections between slavery and the wealth of nations.

-Can the New History of Capitalism connect with Global Economic History?

Key Readings
Pat Hudson and Francesco Boldizzoni, 'Global Economic History: Toward an Interpretative Turn', in Pat Hudson and Francesco Boldizzoni, eds., The Routledge Handbook of Global Economic History (Routledge, 2016), e-book, pp. 1-13.

.Robert C. Allen, Global Economic History. A Very Short Introduction(Oxford,2011), chaps 1-4.

Giorgio Riello and Tirthankar Roy, ‘Introduction: Global Economic History, 1500-2000’, in Tirthankar Roy and Giorgio Riello (eds.), Global Economic History (Bloomsbury, 2018), pp. 1-15.

Prasannan Parthasarathi and Kenneth Pomeranz, ‘The Great Divergence Debate’, in Tirthankar Roy and Giorgio Riello (eds.), Global Economic History (Bloomsbury, 2018), pp. 19-37.

Karl Polanyi, Forward and Introduction, The Great Transformation: the Political and Economic Origins of our Time (new edition, 2001), e-book.

Trevor Burnard and Giorgio Riello, ‘Slavery and the New History of Capitalism’, Jrl of Global History, 2020, 15 (2), pp. 225-244.

Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman, Slavery’s Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development - ebook (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), 'Introduction'.

Further Readings


Jorgen Baten, A History of the Global Economy: 1500 to the Present (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

Joyce Appleby, The Relentless Revolution: a History of Capitalism (Norton, 2010)

The relentless revolution : a history of capitalism / Joyce Appleby

Appleby, Joyce, 1929-2016. Print Book|W. Norton & Co. | c2010. |


Prasannan Parthasarathi (2002), ‘Review article: the Great Divergence’, Past and Present 176, pp. 275-93.
R. Studer, The Great Divergence Reconsidered: Europe, India, and the Rise to Global Economic Power (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

Peter Coclainis, ‘Assessing Ken Pomeranz’s The Great Divergence: a Forum’, Historically Speaking, xii (4), 2011, 10-25.
P. H. H. Vries, ‘Are coal and colonies really crucial? Kenneth Pomeranz and the Great Divergence’, Journal of World History, 12/2 (2001), pp. 408-46.

National Accounting, Wages and Prices
R. C. Allen, J.-P. Bassino, D. Ma, C. Moll-Murata and J. L. van Zanden, ‘Wages, prices, and living standards in China, Japan, and Europe, 1738–1925: in comparison with Europe, Japan, and India’, Economic History Review, 64 (supplement S1) (2011), 8–38.
R. C. Allen, ‘The high wage economy and the industrial revolution: A restatement’, Economic History Review, 68/1 (2015), 1–22.
J. Bolt and J. L. van Zanden, ‘The Maddison Project: collaborative research on historical national accounts’, Economic History Review, 67/3 (2014), 627–51.
Daniel Speich, ‘The use of global abstractions: national income accounting in the period of imperial decline’, Journal of Global History, 6/1 (2011), pp. 7-28.


Mary O'Sullivan, 'The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Capitalism', Enterprise & Society; Wilmington Vol. 19, Iss. 4, (Dec 2018): 751-802.

Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman, Slavery’s Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), e-book.
Larry Neal and J. G. Williamson, The Cambridge History of Capitalism. 2 vols., (Cambridge University Press, 2014), e-book.
J. Kocka, Capitalism. A Short History (Princeton University Press, 2016).
James Oakes, ‘Capitalism and Slavery and the Civil War', International Labor and Working-Class History, 89 (2016), pp. 195-220.


Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Belknap Press, 2014), e-book 'Introduction', pp. 1-35
A. Atkinson, Inequality: What can be done? (Harvard University Press, 2015).
François Bourguignon, The Globalization of Inequality (Princeton University Press, 2015).
Angus Deaton, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality (Princeton University Press, 2015)
Pat Hudson and Keith Tribe (eds.), 'Introduction', The Contradictions of Capital in the Twenty-First Century: The Piketty Opportunity (Agenda Publishing, 2016), e-book.
Branko Milanovic, Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalisation (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2016).