Northwestern Events Calendar


Political Theory Workshop: Onur Ulas Ince, "Saving Capitalism from Empire"

When: Monday, January 27, 2020
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM CT

Where: Scott Hall, 212, 601 University Place, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Stephen Monteiro   (847) 491-7450

Group: Department of Political Science

Category: Academic


Please join the Political Theory Workshop for a presentation by Onur Ulas Ince on "Saving Capitalism from Empire: Uses of Global History in New Institutional Economics"


This paper critically engages the recent “colonial turn” in the field of new institutional economics (NIE) inaugurated by Daron Acemoglu, Simon Johnson, and James Robinson. I contend that the new institutionalist paradigm represents a liberal imaginary of capitalism predicated on a highly selective and stylised history of capitalism. The key NIE premise that only liberal institutions can be properly deemed capitalist rests on bypassing or underplaying the constitutive role of imperial institutions in the history of the modern global economy. Departing from the co-constitution colonialism and capitalism, I highlight, first, the structural interdependence of liberal and illiberal institutions in imperial economic networks, and second, the illiberal origins of putatively liberal capitalist institutions themselves. I argue that NIE cannot account for the constitutive illiberalities of capitalism (colonial slavery, extraction, and dispossession) except by disavowing them. NIE’s critique of colonialism, I conclude, is better understood as a “liberal critique of capitalist unevenness.”

Onur Ulas Ince is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Singapore Management University and Fung Global Fellow at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies. His research stands at the intersection of political theory, political economy, and colonial studies. He is the author of Colonial Capitalism and the Dilemmas of Liberalism (Oxford, 2018) and of articles in Political Theory, History of Political Thought, and The Journal of Politics. He is currently working on a second book project, entitled “Between Commerce and Empire: Capitalism and the Limits of Liberal Anti-Imperialism.”

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