Places and Cultures of Capitalism: Histories from the Grassroots

Elsa Devienne, Andrew Diamond

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Abstract

Over the past decade or so, the concept of capitalism has exploded within the domains of popular culture and mainstream political discourse in the United States, a phenomenon driven forward by the visibility of anticapitalist movements like Occupy Wall Street, the appearance of bestselling books like Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century and blockbuster movies like The Big Short, and the meteoric rise of nationally prominent democratic socialist politicians like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Such circumstances spurred the development of what has quickly become one of the most vibrant subfields in the US historical profession—the so-called “new history of capitalism.” Following the publication in 2013 of a front-page New York Times article covering this new subfield, historians identifying with the project contributed to a range of field-defining essays and exchanges explaining its origins and inspirations, its innovations, and its importance. The essay to follow introduces the thematic dossier by building upon a number of recent critiques of the conceptual flaws and historical blind spots revealed by the exchanges that have laid down the groundwork of the “new history of capitalism.” It argues that this subfield needs to move towards a more meaningful engagement with the social and the cultural, and to incorporate the contributions of recent work on racial capitalism, neoliberalism, the environment, the carceral state, and gender and sexuality in the twentieth-century United States.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalTransatlantica
Volume2
Early online date1 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2021

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