Sven Beckert





Sven Beckert


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The Laird Bell Professor of History at Harvard University, Sven Beckert is co-chair of the Program on the Study of Capitalism at Harvard and co-chair of the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History. Professor Beckert researches and teaches the history of the United States in the 19th century, with a particular emphasis on the history of capitalism, including its economic, social, political, and transnational dimensions. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Cullman Center at the New York Public Library, among others.

Average rating: 3.84 · 1,345 ratings · 252 reviews · 8 distinct works · Similar authors
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“it was not so much the new machines that revolutionized the world, impressive and important as they were. The truly heroic invention was the economic, social, and political institutions in which these machines were embedded.”
Sven Beckert, Empire of Cotton: A Global History

“The empire of cotton has continued to facilitate a giant race to the bottom, limited only by the spatial constraints of the planet.”
Sven Beckert, Empire of Cotton: A Global History

“When “free trade” was imposed upon the Ottoman Empire in 1838 and British cloth “flooded the market in Izmir,” local cotton workers lost their ability to maintain their old production regime. In coastal southeastern Africa, cotton yarn and cloth imports also began to devastate the local cotton textile industry. In Mexico, European cotton imports had a serious impact on local manufacturing—before tariffs enabled Mexican industrialization, Guadalajara’s industry had been, as one historian found, “virtually eliminated.” In Oaxaca, 450 out of 500 looms ceased operating. In China, the 1842 Treaty of Nanking forced the opening of markets, and the subsequent influx of European and North American yarn and cloth had a “devastating” effect, especially on China’s hand spinners.22”
Sven Beckert, Empire of Cotton: A Global History

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