Capitalism's Past

An Inquiry into the Possibility of Pre-Modern Capitalism


In complement to our other series, symposia and events on the history of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, Networks and Neighbours is excited to present here Capitalism’s Past (CP).  The two-part aim of this international and multi-disciplinary symposium is, firstly, to address the question of whether historians can rightly, and should, speak about ‘capitalism’, in any form, as a genuine mode of existence, thought and action, in the pre-modern world. The opening symposium focuses specifically on the period of the Roman Empire and the emergent societies of the late imperial and ‘post-colonial’ centuries (c. 1st – 6th centuries ad). The secondary intention of CP is for scholars of this period to develop our own critical definitions of capitalism – what it means to describe any subject or object at any time as ‘capitalist’ – and our own theoretical frameworks for reading socio-economic life in the ‘Roman’ world.

To accomplish this set of aims, CP offers seven essays by scholars across academic stages and regional pedagogies and representing the diverse methodologies, research, and types of evidence of cognate disciplines. The fresh discourses created by the collective voices of the symposium’s participants lay the groundwork for re-analyzing capitalism and its relation to the principle periods of inquiry for N&N, but they also establish a basis for the broader re-interrogation of the pre-modern world.

As with all Networks and Neighbours activities, the symposium is no-fees open-access.

We welcome suggestions, questions, critiques and ideas. Feel free to write to us at:

ISSN 2576-0483

CC license logo - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International.png