Mary O'Sullivan

vendredi, 7 juin 2019
16.00 à 17.00 heures

Salle 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.


Sur Mary O'Sullivan

Mary O’Sullivan est Professeure ordinaire à l’Université de Genève et Directrice du Département d’histoire, économie et société. Ses recherches se concentrent sur l'histoire du capital, sur les industries et les entreprises, ainsi que sur l'histoire comparée des développements économiques. Son dernier livre, Dividends of Development: Securities Markets in the History of U.S. Capitalism, 1866-1922, Oxford, 2016, analyse le développement du marché américain des capitaux, de la Guerre civile américaine à la fin de la Première Guerre mondiale.