HIS 377 - Plagues, Panics and Crisis: A History of Capitalism
This course focuses on “crisis” as a systemic or patterned occurrence of the modern world in order to unpack the historical development of globalizing forces from the nineteenth century through to our collective present. We will discover that not only have epidemics and rapid economic integration been intertwined the world over, but that the language of disease - mania and contagion - is closely woven into our frameworks for understanding financial crisis, and that financial crises have marked time in capitalism with notable regularity. While finance often appears to be operating at an abstract level beyond the grasp of our own lived experience, financial crises lay bare the socio-cultural and economic forces that culminate in that moment - they act as windows into the deep structures of history.
A key theme running through the way we follow this connected human history will be to observe the ways in which established grand narratives privilege or center European/Western experiences even if they’re talking about the connections between far flung corners of the globe. One of our main tasks will be to correct this sometimes overt, and very often implicit, bias even as we track how crises have historically shaped and been shaped by the dynamics of globalization, from South Asia in the 1840s to Egypt in the 1890s, to the rise of American power, East Asia in the 1990s and our present interrelated crises of COVID-19 and global supply chains.
Satisfies History major and minor requirement.
Satisfies Historical Thought Ways of Knowing requirement.
Satisfies Justice, Equality and Community requirement.