Economic History, Capitalism, and Political Economy

HIST 18101  Democracy in America?  (J. Sparrow)  This course will explore the unlikely career of democracy in US history. Throughout its past, the United States has been defined by endless and unpredictable struggles to establish and extend self-government of one kind or another—even as those struggles have encountered great resistance and relied on the exclusion or subordination of some portion of society to underwrite expanding freedom and equality for those enjoying the fullest benefits of citizenship. American democracy has also relied on a conceptual separation between state and society that has necessarily broken down in practice, as political institutions produced and sustained economic forms like slavery or the corporation, social arrangements like the family, and cultural values such as freedom—even as private interests worked their reciprocal influence over public institutions. Over the course of the quarter we will explore this contested history of democracy in America through a close reading of classic texts, including Tocqueville's famous study, contextualized by the most current historical scholarship. Small, incremental writing assignments and individual presentations will culminate in a final essay that can emphasize philosophical/theoretical or historical/empirical questions according to students’ interests. Students will also have the option of conducting their own original research to satisfy some portion of the coursework, which may lead to subsequent internship opportunities with relevant faculty.

HIST 27300  African American History since 1883  (T. Holt)  A lecture course discussing selected topics in the African American experience (economic, political, social) from Reconstruction Era protections of African American civil rights through social and political movements in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries seeking their restoration. Course evaluations via online quizzes and take-home essays.

HIST 49502  Colloquium: Colonialism, Globalization, and Postcolonialism  (R. Austen)  This course deals with European overseas expansion from the fifteenth through nineteenth centuries, the emergence from this process of new colonial territories inhabited by non-Europeans, and the fate of these territories as "postcolonies" in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century global order. The analytic goal is to integrate politics (the formation of colonial regimes and successor nation-states); economics (the dialectics of global capitalism, European overseas expansion, and varieties of development and underdevelopment), and culture (the construction of European and Third World identities via colonialism). The lectures and assigned readings will privilege "northern" Europe (as opposed to Iberia) but will include France. We will focus upon tropical Africa, the British and French Caribbean, and South Asia, but students are welcome to challenge or extend this definition of the topic. I will normally lecture on Wednesdays, and we will normally discuss the readings on Fridays. Assignments: Two short (3–5 pp) critical papers on specialized readings and one longer final essay (10–12 pp) discussing an approved, self-selected topic. The analysis of these readings must take into account the relevant general material in the course. Students may select a take-home final exam based on the required readings as an alternative to the longer paper.

HIST 49700  Colloquium: The Informal—Economics, Politics, and Social Ties in the City  (D. Jenkins)  This course engages the paradox of the informal, the range of political practices, social ties, and economic modalities seemingly in but not of "formal" institutions, norms, and sectors. It begins with engaging the foundational debates on the informal, debates that challenge the neat separation between the formal and informal and which sharpen the conceptual differences between the informal, the illicit, and the underground. Readings consist of some theory, a handful of primary sources, and mostly secondary readings on cities that cut across different political economic contexts and chronological and geographical boundaries. Themes include urban space, race, gender, borders, policing and regulation. Along the way we will consider the problem of the archive (its silences and elisions) as well as the normative judgments that frame historical interpretations of the informal.