Historians compress a variety of cultural, political and military phenomena into single, highly imprecise package that we call “imperialism.” This talk examines empire solely as a form of material exchange, generally one that favors certain parties over others. It posits four economic models of empire: plunder, mediated extraction, mercantilism, and free trade, both as a strand of linear evolution within Western history, and as models that made sense within specific structural circumstances entirely outside of European influence. Focusing solely on the economic questions of empire—how polities enrich themselves, who is exploited and who benefits—allows us to compare the structural constraints that shaped different systems over time, without falling into cultural specificities or false teleologies of progress.
All welcome. You are invited to join the speaker for drinks after the seminar at Fellows Bar, University House