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The Laboratory of the World Economy: Globalization Theory around 1900
Library, 52 1-052 (CERN)
Library, 52 1-052
Quinn Slobodian (Dahlem Humanities Center, Freie Universität Berlin) talks about
"The Laboratory of the World Economy: Globalization Theory around 1900"
Arts@CERN is delighted to welcome Quinn, who researches the history of Germany in the world with a focus on international political economy and transnational social movements. He is really interested to hear from CERN physicists and engineers about their responses to his theories about the Global Economy at the turn of the century.
We may think of globalization theory as a recent phenomenon. Yet in the decades around 1900, German-speaking economists were already trying to make sense of an entity they called “the world economy,” coining a term that would not enter other languages until after the First World War. What was the nature of the world economy? How could one visualize and represent it? What was the status of national autonomy in an era of globalized communication and trade? My talk explores these questions through the work of German, Austrian, and Swiss economists around 1900. I follow a central debate. On one side were those who used maps and statistics to see the world economy as a globe-spanning “organism,” anticipating later sociological theories of the “network society.” On the other were those, including Joseph Schumpeter, who saw the stock exchange as a laboratory of the world economy. They believed that one could draw conclusions about the world economy at large by observing price movements on the major commodities markets. Serial snapshots of the world market, taken in the laboratory of the stock exchange, could be brought into motion to produce a vision of the world economy in movement along the path of a line graph, prefiguring the later optic of macroeconomics and finance. Their debate produced a primary division in the way we see the world economy that lasts until the present day.
Quinn Slobodian is assistant professor of modern European history at Wellesley College and currently Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Volkswagen Stiftung Postdoctoral Fellow at the Dahlem Humanities Center at the Freie Universität Berlin. He researches the history of Germany in the world with a focus on international political economy and transnational social movements. His current book project has the tentative title, The Century of the World Economy: An Intellectual History of Neoliberal Globalization. He has held fellowships at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University and the Center for Contemporary History in Potsdam. Recent publications include Foreign Front: Third World Politics in Sixties West Germany (Duke University Press, 2012), “The Borders of the Rechtsstaat in the Arab Autumn: Deportation and Law in West Germany, 1972-1973,” German History (2013); and “Bandung in Divided Germany: Non-Aligned Politics in East and West, 1955-1963,” The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History (2013).
The presentation will take place in the CERN Library on Tuesday April 15th at 1600. Coffee will be served at 1530.