Centre for Finance and Development
27 April 2022

Call for Proposals: Histories of Capitalism in Europe and the World

The second annual Pierre du Bois Doctoral Workshop, organised by Fernanda Conforto de Oliveira, Michele Zampa, Oluwaseun Williams, and Amal Shahid, will take place at the Geneva Graduate Institute from 29-30 September 2022.

Call for Proposals


The history of the modern world is inherently connected with the history of capitalism. Originating from mercantilist ideas in Europe, capitalism has been theorised by political economists since at least the 16th century, and the study of its theory and practice has undergirded explanations of fundamental world events and processes. Conceived as a market system geared towards accumulation of profit, capitalism has been widely studied across disciplines as central to the functioning of modern societies. Nonetheless, the study of capitalism has long been the prerogative of scholars who identified as philosophers, economists, political scientists, among others.  In history, capitalism came to form the core of the study of modern state formation, colonialism and imperialism, industrialisation, trade, or globalisation and commodities. 

Historiographical debates exploring ‘why the West industrialised before the East’ informs research in Economic history until today.  In the last 20 years, macro and structural methods to the histories of capitalism, which were linear in their approach, have been complemented by microhistories of capitalism, that is, studies of specific commodities, individuals, and ideas in a global and transnational context. More recently, the 2008 global financial crisis reignited ever more interest for the economic past, bringing to the forefront debates over the role of the state as a financial player and an alternative source of capitalisation of development compared to that of private financial markets. Given the dynamism of capitalism as an effective analytical tool of research, its study holds significance not only to scholars, but also for policy makers and development practitioners in the world today.

With the generous support of the Pierre du Bois Foundation and the Department of International History and Politics at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, Geneva, we invite proposals for the second Annual Pierre du Bois Doctoral Workshop which will take place in Geneva, Switzerland, on 29-30 September 2022.

The aim of the workshop is to bring together doctoral candidates and early career scholars using varied methodological approaches to explore core themes in the history of capitalism, in conversation with leading scholars in the field. It attempts to examine how capitalism functioned, adapted and transformed various socio-economic landscapes. The juxtaposition of different regions and methods will allow for a fuller discussion of how capitalism has evolved, as well as the new directions that the field is taking. The workshop intends to bring together case studies from Europe and the world during modern and contemporary periods. Interdisciplinary and comparative research methods are especially encouraged.


We welcome proposals related to the general topic of the workshop from PhD candidates, PostDocs, and early-career scholars in History and related disciplines who are registered at any European university. Abstracts of 300-400 words should be submitted by 30 May 2022, along with a short bio mentioning university affiliation.

Decisions will be announced by mid-June 2022. The selected participants will be requested to send in a paper of maximum 8,000 words by 12 September 2022.
Please send your abstracts, expressions of interest, as well as any other questions or inquiries to with the subject line ‘Pierre du Bois Workshop 2022.

Presenting participants coming from outside of Geneva can receive limited financial support.
There are limited spots available for PhD candidates and Postdocs who would like to attend without presenting a paper.

The workshop conveners are Fernanda Conforto de Oliveira, Michele Zampa, Oluwaseun Williams, and Amal Shahid, PhD Candidates at the Geneva Graduate Institute's Department of International History and Politics.

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