Call for Papers: Origins of Capitalism

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The Menard Family George Washington Forum: Origins of Capitalism


The Menard Family George Washington Forum on American Ideas, Politics, and Institutions at Ohio University, a JMC partner program, invites paper proposals for a conference and subsequent edited volume on the origins of capitalism. The conference will be held at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, on March 25 and 26, 2022. Previous Menard Family George Washington Forum conferences have resulted in edited books from the university presses at Cambridge, Oxford, Virginia, and Manchester. The deadline for submission is October 15, 2021.

Gareth Austin (Cambridge), Sven Beckert (Harvard), Emma Griffin (East Anglia), and Prasannan Parthasarathi (Boston College) will deliver plenary lectures.

This conference and its subsequent volume will examine yet again the origins of what Max Weber called “the most fateful force in our modern life,” capitalism. Scholarly inquiry into the origins of capitalism dates back to the founding of the social sciences and the topic is of perennial interest. Why did a radically new form of socioeconomic organization that eventually encompassed and transformed the globe emerge in parts of the early modern world? The question has generated and continues to generate extensive debate across disciplines.

This conference will bring together historians and historically-oriented social scientists to reconsider the origins of capitalism in the early modern period (c. 1450 to c. 1850). It will include researchers working on all the major world regions—Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas—as well as comparativists and generalists in order to explore the topic regionally, globally, and theoretically. In addition to examining the historical emergence of capitalism, the conference will discuss the concepts and categories that are used to grasp the nature and dynamics of this form of socioeconomic organization. The organizers aim to include as many different approaches to the study of capitalism as possible among the conference presentations and in the subsequent volume.

The organizers will consider any and all paper proposals that are relevant for understanding the origins of capitalism from the late Middle Ages to the early industrial era. Whether the topic of the proposal is tightly focused on a particular place and time or broadly sweeps across regions and centuries, applicants should be clear about how their work speaks to the origins and early development of capitalism.


The organizers welcome proposals from advanced doctoral students and both early career and established scholars in history, sociology, anthropology, political science, economics, and related fields.

Submission Instructions

Proposals should include:

  1. A 500-word abstract;
  2. a brief (1-2 page) curriculum vitae;
  3. current contact information.

Please send proposals to BOTH conference organizers by October 15, 2021:

  • Dr. James M. Vaughn, Menard Family George Washington Forum, Ohio University (
  • Dr. Robert G. Ingram, Department of History, Ohio University (

Limited financial support is available on a competitive basis for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty members who cannot secure institutional funding.

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The deadline for submission is October 15, 2021.



The Menard Family George Washington Forum on American Ideas, Politics, and Institutions at Ohio University teaches America’s foundational principles in their Western intellectual, political, and institutional contexts. It is grounded on the idea that students facing an increasingly globalized world need to understand what characterizes and distinguishes the nation in which they live and the civilization from which it emerged. The Forum helps students become enlightened citizens in a liberal democracy whose roots run deep in Western civilization, but whose ideals and interests transcend the West.

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