Early Modern Europe, 2012

Research Interests

Old regime France; European imperialism; political economy and the history of capitalism; the Enlightenment; intellectual history; environmental history


Capitalism and Critique: The Commercial Imperialism of Old Regime France


Oliver's research explores the distinct contribution of old regime France to the history of capitalism. His dissertation,
"Capitalism and Critique: The Commercial Imperialism of Old Regime France," explains and describes how over the course of the eighteenth century France achieved a prominent position in a globalized economy without any of the institutions historians tend to associate with early modern economic development. The argument is pursued through a series of case studies of particular commodities—coffee, cochineal, acacia gum, and gunpowder—that track the development of French commercial imperialism across the Indian Ocean, the Levant, Cadiz, Oaxaca, Senegal, French Guiana, and the metropole, from the "golden age" of commerce in the early eighteenth century to the Age of Revolutions. Research for the dissertation was conducted across fifteen archives on three continents, and was funded by an International Dissertation Research Fellowship from the Social Sciences Research Council.


—Co-founds Intellectual History Workshop
—Awarded 2016–17 SSRC International Research Fellowship for study in France
Discusses archival finds in the Archives Nationales in Paris