Empire of Cotton : Global Origins of Modern Capitalism | Dr. Sven Beckert @ Godrej | October 2019

by Sven Beckert


October 2019

Sven Beckert is Laird Bell Professor of History at Harvard University, where he researches and teaches courses on the history of American capitalism, Gilded Age America, the political economy of modern capitalism, labor history, global capitalism and the history of European capitalism. Currently he is at work on a history of capitalism. Cotton is so ubiquitous as to be almost invisible, yet understanding its history holds the key to understanding the origins of modern capitalism. In his talk Sven Beckert reviews the global history of cotton to then show how, in a remarkably brief period, European entrepreneurs and powerful statesmen recast the world’s most significant manufacturing industry, combining imperial expansion and slave labor with new machines and wage workers. We see how this industrial capitalism then reshaped these worlds of cotton into an empire, and how this empire transformed the world.

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