HIST. 125: The History of Global Capitalism

Instructor: Justin Roberts

Day & Time:
12:00 PM - 12:50 PM

Category I/II
a cartoon where the octopus, which represents the capitalist state, has wrapped its tentacles around a man.

The History of Global Capitalism 

What is capitalism? Where did it come from? Where is it going? How has it shaped people’s lives over the last six centuries? This course explores the spread and development of global capitalism from its origins in the expansion of European seaborne empires to Africa, Asia and the Americas in the fifteenth century to the global economic crisis of 2008. We will examine the many forms of capitalism that have emerged over five centuries, including merchant capitalism, industrial capitalism, slave-based capitalism, war capitalism, financial capitalism, casino capitalism, and state-run capitalism. We will learn about the revolutionary economic and social changes, the technological inventions, and the intellectual frameworks that helped drive the expansion of this relentlessly adaptive economic system. We will pay close attention to the impact that capitalism had on the material realities of everyday life and on the lived experiences of the forced and free workers in capitalist economies. We will explore how capitalism—a constructed reality—has shaped and reshaped politics, the natural world and people’s core beliefs about human nature, human rights, and the meaning of life.