New article: Reassembling the Economic

A new article discussing new avenues in business and economic history has been published in the influential American Historical Review. The abstract follows below.

Reassembling the Economic: New Departures in Historical Materialism

by Kenneth Lipartito


Recent writing in economic and business history is reexamining major transformations in world history—industrialization, capitalism, the global economy. This new literature avoids the structural determinism of old with much greater sensitivity to politics, culture, and social institutions. To a lesser degree it bridges the gap between social science–type history, often written by those trained in economics departments, and the more narrative styles of those trained in history departments. Taken as a whole, the recent scholarship offers a substantial rethinking of how we should engage material life, including the natural world, and a challenge to cultural historians who focus exclusively on language and representation. Woven through the various works is a possible new ontology that grants agency to things as well as people without the traditional tension between the power of external structures and the autonomy of human consciousness. This new materialism offers a way for historians to bring markets, finance, capital, technology, corporations, and other economic features of the past back into the historical narrative.

The American Historical Review(2016) 121 (1): 101-139.doi: 10.1093/ahr/121.1.101