Event—Scholarly Seminars

Eli Cook, University of Haifa & Najnin Islam, University of Connecticut


Rise of the Headshrinkers: The Explosion of Choice Experiments in Neoliberal America

“One of the best schemes possible”: Racialization, Caste, and the Production of the Indian Coolie

Eli Cook and Najnin Islam

Walter D. Scott and the Rating of the Modern Self

Eli Cook, University of Haifa

An excerpt from my book manuscript tentatively titled Choose Your Own Captivity: Choice Architects and the Analog Origins of Digital Capitalism, this paper explores the meteoric rise of “choice experiments” amongst corporate marketers, behavioral economists and consumer psychologists in the 1970s and 1980s and the lasting effect that they had on American capitalism. The paper will discuss how marketing practices such as “conjoint analysis” and ad campaigns such as the Pepsi Challenge shuttled millions of Americans into highly structured choice experiments in order to extract their preferences and manipulate their behavior

“One of the best schemes possible”: Racialization, Caste, and the Production of the Indian Coolie

Najnin Islam, University of Connecticut

This paper examines the construction of the figure of the Indian indentured servant or the coolie in the British Caribbean after emancipation. While the “new world” coolie is understood to be the product of a racialized division of labor in the nineteenth century, I show how discourses of race and caste articulated to make the Indian coolie legible as a suitable replacement for emancipated Africans. Restoring caste to the conversation about capitalism in the Caribbean, I offer an analysis of how such forms of differentiation, often described as local, regional, and atavistic to the project of colonial modernity, were carefully mobilized in the service of racial capitalism in the Atlantic world.


This event is free, but all participants must register in advance. Space is limited, so please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.

Register and Request Paper

About the History of Capitalism Seminar Series

The History of Capitalism Seminar provides a works-in-progress forum for work from scholars at all levels. Proposals may consider a variety of subjects, including the history of race and racism, gender and feminist studies, intellectual history, political history, legal history, business history, the history of finance, labor history, cultural history, urban history, and agricultural history. Elizabeth Tandy Shermer (Loyola University Chicago) and Andrew Hartman (Illinois State University) are the co-coordinators of the seminar.


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