Event—Scholarly Seminars

Miriam Posner, UCLA & Keith Harris, Purdue University

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"Everybody's Problem, Nobody's Baby": The Technology of the Supply Chain

“Natural Markets and Jealous Nations: Trade and Tariffs in the Age of Panic, 1837-1846”

Miriam Posner and Keith Harris

"Everybody's Problem, Nobody's Baby": The Technology of the Supply Chain

Miriam Posner, UCLA

Lately, it seems as though supply-chain bottlenecks are constantly in the news. But how did we get here? This paper looks at the development of what we've come to call the "supply chain," arguing that it's most helpful to understand it as a historically specific field of financial possibility. Over the decades, as the endeavor of building and distributing goods has evolved, so has the technology that professionals use to do these jobs. I look at the assumptions built in to these systems, showing how the business of distributing goods morphed from the province of shipping clerks to the realm of data scientists.

“Natural Markets and Jealous Nations: Trade and Tariffs in the Age of Panic, 1837-1846”

Keith Harris, Purdue University 

Financial panic in the 1830s prompted a transatlantic debate over trade and tariffs that resulted in a successful push for an American protective tariff in 1842, only to be reversed in 1846 after the British repeal of the “Corn Laws.” Free trade advocates and protectionists in both the United States and Britain fixated on the role of famers, merchants, and manufacturers in the trans-Appalachian West for securing favorable trade legislation. In this paper, I situate western development within the broader transatlantic economy to capture how individuals both within and outside the western states framed the western interest in markets shaped by nations and seemingly “natural” forces.


Respondent: Andrew Wender Cohen, Syracuse University

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

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About the History of Capitalism Seminar

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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