Foundation of Market Economies

This course will study the historical and intellectual forces behind market economies’ appearance on the world stage. The voyages of exploration undertaken by Europeans in the 15th and 16th centuries created a global economy in just a few decades. By 1600, silver from Mexico was ex-changed in Manila for ceramics made in Nanjing (China). After a long trip through the Pacific, Mexico, and the Atlantic, the ceramics ended up in the tables of prosperous merchants in Bruges(modern-day Belgium). How did this integrated global economy appear? How did global inter-connections over the centuries shape our current world? How did markets emerge and influence these interconnections? Who were the winners of globalization? And who were the losers?

Even if the economic theory will structure much of the discussion, insights from intellectual history, cultural history, microhistory, legal history, and institutional history will help to frame the main narrative.

The course will be, as well, global. First, beyond the traditional focus of economic history courses in Europe and the Americas, particular attention will be devoted to Africa and Asia. Second, the priority will be to highlight the interconnections between the different regions and to understand how the people living in them negotiated the opportunities and tensions created by the economic transformations triggered by globalization and how they conceptualized the changing lives around them.