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CFP: “Doing Business across Borders”

The Center for the History of Business, Technology, and Society at the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware, will hold on conference on "Doing Business across Borders" on November 6, 2015.
     The Center invites proposals for original papers on the way business activities (broadly conceived) have forged connections across the boundaries of nations, colonies, and empires. The papers should be historical and rely on empirical research to locate these episodes in discrete places and times, and preferably trace multidirectional relationships generated in the process of crossing borders. Business activities may include the movement of goods, services, ideas, capital, technology, and people, and include commercial diasporas organized around ethnicity, religion, or family; entrepreneurship; multinational firms; illicit practices (e.g. smuggling and piracy); family businesses and networks; and state-chartered entities. Scholarship developed under the rubric of globalization is welcome, especially if such proposals engage with scholarly critiques of this concept. Papers may consider any area of the world after 1700.
     Possible topics may include:
  • transfers of business models and practices, such as bookkeeping, scientific management, decentralized firm structures, conceptually as well as empirically addressing what has moved 
  • transitions in size and scale, and/or changes in organizational complexity and practices 
  • role of oceans, ports, harbors, rivers, and lakes; 
  • commercial hubs and hinterlands; obstacles and opportunities created by landscapes and geography; and other analytic frames for considering the role of business forging cross-border relationships 
  • the durable nature of borders, boundaries, and barriers and the challenges entailed in surmounting them 
  • connections between seeming antinomies, e.g. international firms and home production; unfree labor systems and reliance on wage labor; knowledge-based commodities with routinized manufacturing; democratic societies and dictatorships 
  • persistence of obstacles and barriers to business activity as well as their effacement in law and practice
  • business activities and labor markets for which borders are irrelevant 
Proposals may be up to 500 words, and should include a summary of the paper’s argument, the sources on which it draws, and the scholarship with which it engages. Work must be original and not previously published. A short c.v. or resume should accompany the proposal. The deadline for receipt of all materials is June 1, 2015; submissions should be sent via email to Carol Lockman, Presenters will receive travel support to cover most costs to attend the conference.

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