Mary O'Sullivan

Freitag, 7. Juni 2019
16:00 bis 17:00 Uhr
Raum KOL-G-201


History as Heresy: Unlearning the “Lessons” of Financial History

During the recent economic crisis, the “lessons” of history were broadly invoked to diagnose the challenges confronting the global economy and to prescribe polices for addressing them. For some historians, especially those who study the arcane details of financial history, there is much to celebrate in policymakers’ looking to the past in making policy for the present. Their only concern, as evident in a flurry of recent publications, is to distinguish clearly between the good and bad lessons that policymakers ought to learn from financial history. In my keynote lecture, I will argue that the conception of financial history as a field of inquiry with lessons to teach reflects its profoundly orthodox character. Rooted in an economic perspective that is supremely confident but deeply constrained in its understanding of the financial dynamics of global capitalism, such a didactic financial history is a poor guide for historians who are interested in exploring the financial past. Based on a discussion of three prominent themes in financial history – the financing of investment; the power of financial elites; and the causes of financial crises – I will suggest that there are more promising ways to study and mobilise financial history but only if we are willing to use it for heretical rather than orthodox purpose.


Über Mary O' Sullivan

Mary O’Sullivan ist ordentliche Professorin an der Université de Genève und Direktorin des Departements für Geschichte, Ökonomie und Gesellschaft. Ihre Forschung konzentriert sich auf die Geschichte des Kapitals, auf Branchen und Unternehmen sowie auf die vergleichende Geschichte von Wirtschaftsentwicklungen.

Ihr aktuelles Buch Dividends of Development: Securities Markets in the History of U.S. Capitalism, 1866-1922, Oxford, 2016 analysiert die Entwicklung des US-amerikanischen Kapitalmarktes vom amerikanischen Bürgerkrieg bis Ende des Ersten Weltkrieges.