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Free and Unfree Labor: The Political Economy of Capitalism, Share-Cropping, and Slavery

  • Haines Hall 279 UCLA (map)

In recent years historians and economists have revived the long-standing debate on the relationship between capitalism and slavery, as well as the character of labor markets in the post-bellum South. The emerging literature has tended to focus on theoretical and definitional disputes. But behind the scenes, historians and social scientists have been accumulating new evidence that is transforming our understanding of both free and unfree labor in the United States in the 19th century. This colloquium will be devoted to exploring that new research and to questioning many long-held assumptions concerning productiveness of free and unfree labor, the origins of Southern backwardness, and the causes of the American Civil War.

Speakers:

John Clegg is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at NYU. His paper is entitled “The Real Wages of Whiteness.”

Suresh Naidu is Associate Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Professor Naidu will present on "Labor Markets in the Shadow of American Slavery.”

Gavin Wright is William Robertson Coe Professor of American Economic History, Stanford University and author of Sharing the Prize: The Economics of the Civil Rights Revolution in the American South (2018) and Slavery and American Economic Development (2006). Professor Wright will present on "Slavery and Anglo-American Capitalism.”