March 1 Call for Papers, Harvard Graduate Conference on the History of Capitalism: “Before the City / Beyond the City: Capitalism in the Countryside”

The organizing committee for the inaugural Harvard Graduate Conference on the History of Capitalism invites graduate students to submit proposals addressing this year’s theme: capitalism in the countryside.

In a world that continues to be mostly ocean, countryside, forest, and desert and with nearly half the world’s population still living and laboring in such locations, we seek to decenter the city and metropole and problematize progress narratives that render capitalist and urban formations inevitable. Proceeding outward from any world region, we hope to tackle a number of theoretical, historiographical, and methodological questions ranging from the origins of a capitalist world-system in the sixteenth century, to the relationship between slavery and capitalism, to the politics of development in the twenty-first century. These questions will touch on the changing ways in which people relate to land, water, and other materials and the claims they make on them; the power relationships that govern those claims; how life is imagined and sustained, how livelihoods are made and unmade, and how belonging is constructed and contested.
With this conference, we will bring together rising scholars from a range of disciplines and interdisciplines who study capitalism in non-urban locations. We particularly welcome submissions that address one or more of the following themes, but the list is suggestive only:

1) The expansion of the state / institutions / infrastructure
2) Fiscal transformation
3) The impact of development economics and state planning
4) Mechanization, automation, and workers’ control
5) Labor and migration
6) Gender, the subjugation of women engaged in production and social reproduction
7) Shifts in agriculture
8) Commodity frontiers
9) Transformations in land tenure, prices, and society attending integration into the global market
10) Peasant revolts and rural uprisings more generally, as well as other forms of resistance
11) Histories of material life, consumption, nutrition, famines
12) Rural capitalism vis-a-vis urban capitalism

Accepted papers will be grouped for presentation within three or four panels each composed of graduate students and faculty commentators from Harvard and elsewhere. Participants thus have the opportunity to receive extensive feedback and to engage in lively discussion with a diverse yet focused community of researchers from around the world.

The organizers invite graduate students to submit a 300-word proposal and one-page c.v. (in Word or PDF format) to capcon@fas.harvard.edu by March 1, 2017. Successful proposals will be notified by March 15, 2017. We anticipate being able to reimburse reasonable travel and lodging expenses. As the date approaches, additional information will be posted on the conference at http://studyofcapitalism.harvard.edu/.