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Empire of Cotton

New York Times Top 10 Books of the Year
Pulitzer Prize Finalist
Winner of the Bancroft Award
About the Author

Sven Beckert is Laird Bell Professor of History at Harvard University. Beckert’s research and teaching center on the history of the United States in the nineteenth century, with a particular emphasis on the history of capitalism, including its economic, social, political and global dimensions.

Beckert teaches courses on the political economy of modern capitalism, the history of American capitalism, Gilded Age America, labor history, global capitalism and the history of European capitalism. Together with a group of students he has written on the historical connections between Harvard and slavery and published Harvard and Slavery: Seeking a Forgotten History.

Currently he is at work on a history of capitalism.

Beckert is co-chair of the Program on the Study of Capitalism at Harvard University , co-chair of the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History (WIGH) and co-editor of a series of books at Princeton University Press on “America in the World.”

Beckert’s work has been supported by the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Humboldt Foundation, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies, and the New York Public Library’s Center for Scholars and Writers, among others. He has lectured all over the world.

Authored and edited

Empire of Cotton


Slavery's Capitalism


Global History, Globally

The Monied Metropolis


American Capitalism


The American Bourgeoisie

My Books

"Masterly... Deeply researched and eminently readable, "Empire of Cotton" gives new insight into the relentless expansion of global capitalism. With graceful prose and a clear and compelling argument, Beckert not only charts the expansion of cotton capitalism... he addresses the conditions of enslaved workers in the fields and wage workers in the factories. An astonishing achievement"


New York Times

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Upcoming Events

  • Lecture at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute
    Thu, Oct 24
    מכון ון ליר בירושלים
    Oct 24, 2019, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
    מכון ון ליר בירושלים, ז'בוטינסקי 43, ירושלים, 9214116, Israel
  • The Fifteenth Annual Dale E. Benson Lecture at Pacific Lutheran University
    Oct 09, 2019, 7:30 PM
    Anderson University Center, 12180 Park Ave S, Tacoma, WA 98447, USA
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