The scope of accumulation and the reach of moral perception
Slavery, market revolution and Atlantic capitalism
in Emancipation and the remaking of the British imperial world
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In this essay, Robin Blackburn combines reflections on new developments in relation to capitalism and slavery with his current research. Opening with a critique of the limitations of Eric Williams's classic thesis – the over-emphasis on profit to the exclusion of other issues such as credit and materials – he will comment on the re-thinking of the thesis in the light of the work of Kenneth Pomeranz and Karl Polanyi. Capitalism and slavery, he insists, need to be thought together. The debates around these issues is then situated in relation to his research on the United States as a ‘sub-imperial state’ in the second half of the nineteenth century - its involvement in the clandestine slave trade and the continuing centrality of slavery to its economy despite formal emancipation.

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