CFP: Colonial financial markets in the long 18th century: a source of underdevelopment?

Call for Papers at a Session at the 18th WEHC, Boston, 29 July – 3 August, 2018

Title: Colonial financial markets in the long 18th century: a source of underdevelopment?

Deadline of the Call : 31 December 2017 Applications must be submitted to the corresponding organiser no later than 31 December 2017. The application consists of an abstract and a brief CV, which includes the contributor’s main publications, affiliation and contact information.

The abstract should not exceed 250 words, fit the purpose of the session and contain a clear title. Applicants will be notified before the 31 January 2017, at the latest.


The underdevelopment of financial markets in today’s developing countries probably has its roots in their colonial past. Financial markets are considered key to the long term development of various economic leaders in history and it is therefore important understand the institutional aspect of financial markets for developing countries today. More specifically, only a few financial revolutions exist in history. These propelled the economies of The Dutch Republic, Great Britain, the United States and Japan onto paths of exceptional growth. These financial revolutions all built on the experiences of other countries: the English learned as much from the Dutch, as they had learned from their Italian and Antwerp predecessors. The transfer of financial skill appears to play an important part in the development and progress of these financial markets. Yet, this transferability appears limited to the European experience or its off-shoots also known as settler colonies, with the notable exception of Japan. This is an odd phenomenon, especially when the exchange of ideas and technological skill around the globe is considered.

This session extends the discussion about the importance of financial techniques and its transferability to the colonies of the European powers, most notably Great Britain and the Dutch Republic. This extension is a logical step following Acemoglu Johnson and Robinson’s distinction between settler and non-settler colonies in the transplantation of European institutions. If the colony was a non-settler colony, they argue, extractive institutions were put in place. If it was a settler colony, more inclusive institutions appeared. The focus of this and subsequent studies, focused on macroeconomic outcome variables like GDP growth. What research on this institutional effects have failed to study are financial institutions and how it transferred from colonizer to colony. The extent to which financial markets were influenced by the type of colonial institutions remain unclear. This session purposes to examine and compare the development of financial markets between these colonial types.

The aim of this session is to bring together scholars of colonial financial markets to discuss how the colonizer and the type of colony influenced the transfer of financial markets to these colonies. These markets can include but is not limited to money markets, informal and formal credit markets, and bond markets. The sessions proposes to investigate not only the formal financial markets of colonial debt and international transfers between colony and colonizer, but also the informal markets between settlers and the indigenous populations of the colonies.

Session organisers:

Christie Swanepoel (corresponding), University of Western Cape,

Alberto Feenstra, University of Amsterdam,

Farley Grubb, University of Delaware,



Image: Portrait of the Directors of the Dutch East India Company by Johan de Baen in 1682.

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