Professor Julia Ott directs the interdisciplinary Robert L. Heilbroner Center for Capitalism Studies at the New School. In the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown, a number of programs to study capitalism have emerged, from Harvard to the University of Georgia. University presses have followed suit, producing new work fundamental to understanding our current crisis. Here are five crucial contributions.
by Jennifer L. Anderson
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You’ve seen the musical—now enter Alexander Hamilton’s material world. In Mahogany, Anderson invites us inside the founding fathers’ surroundings, in which luminous objects made of silk, silver, and mahogany were featured.
The “consumer revolution” of the mid-18th century is as central to capitalism as the Industrial Revolution that followed. In the West, Europeans gained access to more goods than ever by exploiting slave labor. Venturing forth from the British West Indies (much like Hamilton himself), Anderson’s account blends ecological, labor, cultural, and imperial history.
by Devin Fergus
Oxford University Press, 2017 (forthcoming)
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Debt stands between millions of Americans and their dreams of economic security. Land of the Fee reveals a hidden system of charges that keeps Americans from getting out of it.
Fergus fingers a predatory system that makes it unnecessarily expensive to work, educate, own, and live. In many industries, lobbyists have worked to dismantle consumer protections, resulting in surreptitious fees—often waived for those who can afford them, and targeting communities that can’t—which have become the norm for American banks, insurers, airlines, colleges, and universities.