SASC Colloquium Series: Currency, Empire and the Financialization of the Globe: Approaches from the New History of Capitalism, Ritu Birla

Event time: 
Thursday, October 10, 2019 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Henry R. Luce Hall (LUCE ), 202 See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

This lecture returns to themes in the history of British imperial finance via approaches from the new interdisciplinary history of capitalism. Informed by attention to historical processes of economization as well as contextualizing our contemporary modes of financial profit, new histories have begun to examine infrastructures—legal, governmental, digital, material—of securitization and speculation, today arguably the dominant mode of financial capitalism. India offers a deep site through which to historize shifts in the cultures and practices of finance. In this mode, I revisit rich historiography on Indian currency and imperial sovereignty through new attention to the media and techniques of financial governing.
Ritu Birla is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Toronto. There, she also directs the research initiative in Global Governance, Economy and Society at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. She has previously held positions as the Richard Charles Lee Director of the Asian Institute at the Munk School, and before that, Director of that Institute’s sub-unit, the Centre for South Asian Studies. Broadly, her research has addressed capitalism and its forms of governing through the Indian site. She is the author of Stages of Capital: Law, Culture and Market Governance in Late Colonial India (Duke University Press, 2009; Orient Blackswan India, 2010), winner of the 2010 Albion Book Prize in British Studies, cited for its foundational analysis of colonial law on markets, practices of “vernacular” kinship-based capitalism, and the imperial making of that modern abstraction we call “the economy.” Her writing, published in a wide array of venues such as Modern Asian Studies, Social Research, Journal of Law and Society, has investigated law, culture, and economy as gendered and mutually constitutive value-systems. She is currently completing a manuscript, Neoliberalism and Empire, solicited by Duke University Press. She is a Senior Editor at Public Culture and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Capitalism and History.

Ritu Birla, University of Toronto