Sie sind hier: FRIAS Fellows Fellows 2020/21 Prof. Dr. Sven Beckert

Prof. Dr. Sven Beckert

Harvard University
External Senior Fellow
August - November 2020


Professor Beckert researches and teaches the history of the United States in the nineteenth century, with a particular emphasis on the history of capitalism, including its economic, social, political and transnational dimensions. He just published Empire of Cotton: A Global History, the first global history of the nineteenth century’s most important commodity. The book won the Bancroft Award, The Philip Taft Award, the Cundill Recognition for Excellence and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The New York Times named it one of the ten most important books of 2015. His other publications have focused on the nineteenth-century bourgeoisie, on labor, on democracy, on global history and on the connections between slavery and capitalism. Currently he is at work on a history of capitalism. Beckert teaches courses on the political economy of modern capitalism, the history of American capitalism, Gilded Age America, labor history, global capitalism and the history of European capitalism. Together with a group of students he has also worked on the historical connections between Harvard and slavery and published Harvard and Slavery: Seeking a Forgotten History.

Beckert is co-chair of the Program on the Study of Capitalism at Harvard University , and co-chair of the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History (WIGH). Beyond Harvard, he co-chairs an international study group on global history, is co-editor of a series of books at Princeton University Press on “America in the World,” and has co-organized a series of conferences on the history of capitalism. He is a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow. He also directs the Harvard College Europe Program.

Publikationen (Auswahl)


Capitalism: A Global History

My current work analyzes the social and spatial spread of capitalism over the past 500 years. Charting one of the most impactful developments of the modern era, the book argues for a non-eurocentric and post-Cold War history that makes the global South an integral story of the full sweep of capitalism's history, and aims to leave some of the ideological binaries of the nineteenth century behind. Combining very local with very global analysis, I embed my narrative of economic change in accounts of politics, culture, and social structures, and show how very dispersed actors--from merchants in India to enslaved workers in the United States, from Saar industrialists to African peasants --structured the revolution of capitalism and brought about our contemporary world. The book will be published in 21 countries.

In addition, I am working along with a group of Dutch and Belgian colleagues on a large project on the history of commodity frontiers during the past 600 years.