Economy and Consumption

Robert DuPlessis

in Atlantic History

ISBN: 9780199730414
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:
Economy and Consumption

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Whether there was such a thing as an “Atlantic economy” in the early modern period (the centuries from about 1500 to about 1800) remains a matter of debate—part of the larger controversy over whether Atlantic history should be considered a distinct field, a subfield of world history, or just a new title for the long-established, if only recently fashionable again, field of imperial history. What is clear is that there currently exists no study of the Atlantic economy as a whole. Instead, research on early modern Atlantic economic history is scattered in many places and under many rubrics. Often it is included in chapters in books or collective volumes of essays on themes as varied as the early modern Jewish Diaspora or the British Atlantic. Findings in Atlantic economic history also appear as subtopics in subjects like plantation slavery, piracy, port cities. Much valuable economic history of the Atlantic basin, moreover, is not explicitly conceptualized or presented from an Atlantic perspective but within frameworks that may be global, imperial, regional, or even local. Then too, diverse historiographical traditions understand the term “Atlantic” differently. For some, it includes the entire basin, for others just a national littoral that fronts upon the Atlantic. Finally, multiauthor collections are common—more common, perhaps, than single-author monographs. This allows better coverage of a wide variety of sources, languages, and societies. But it also reflects and helps perpetuate the absence of a governing paradigm to orient scholarship.

Article.  12024 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; European History ; African History ; History ; Regional and National History

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