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Historisches Seminar

At the Edges of the Worlds: An Interdisciplinary Workshop

Luyken, Caspar. Ontmoeting Tussen Twee Miskitomannen. 1698. Paper. Rijks Museum, Amsterdam.

Project summary

Over the course of the first half of the 19th century, the world experienced a profound transformation of its institutional economic and political foundations, a moment famously coined by Eric Hobsbawm as the “Age of Revolution.” Over the last few years, historians and economists have gone to great lengths to identify the various effects and manifestations of these massive economic and political transformations thematically and regionally around the world. These reconsiderations have impacted incredibly diverse fields of scientific inquiry, including imperial studies, the histories of marginal polities, as well as the history of capitalism and finance.

As part of a research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (PZ00P1_201781), this series of workshops offers a platform for historians and economists willing to present studies found at the intersection of these various fields of scientific inquiry. In a way, it invites participants to consider whether bridges exist at the “edges” of various historiographic "worlds" that have often been considered separate and distant from each other.

Taking place at the University of Zurich, this year’s workshop will aim to collectively discuss matters pertaining to the economic and political histories of “sovereignty” of marginal polities (all terms defined as broadly as possible).


Damian Clavel – University of Zurich

Damian is interested in combining micro-history and global history of capitalism. As an SNF Ambizione Fellow, he is launching his second project, “Deconstructing Fraudulent Indigenous Utopias: A History of Failed Miskitu and Mapuche Loans on European Money Markets in the Age of Revolutions.” It studies if and how American Indigenous polities accessed 19th-century British and French capital markets. In particular, the Miskitu and the Mapuche attempted to fund the realization of their own utopian desires of political and economic independence by attempting to issue bonds on the London, Paris, and Bordeaux Stock Exchanges. Often depicted as massive financial frauds, these episodes are here reintegrated within their respective historical Atlantic environments, defined by a rise of private European commercial and financial projects aimed at taking advantage of the resources of politically ill-defined American territories. Shedding light on the foundations of credit relationships between American proto-sovereigns and European capital market, Damian’s research reflects the importance of considering how local realities of peripheral and metropolitan agents affected transatlantic financial markets.

Mara Pürro – Coordinator, University of Zurich

Mara received her Bachelor degree in English literature and linguistics (minor) and History (major). She has since completed her Master in the same combination of studies at the University of Zurich, and is about to begin her Lehrdiplom studies. For her MA thesis, she specialized in the late colonial history of Cuba with ties to Yucatán in Mexico, concentrating on the nineteenth-century trafficking of the Indigenous Maya people of the Yucatán peninsula across the Caribbean Sea to Cuba. Through retracing their physical and legal journey from being on the losing side in the Caste War in Yucatán to their effective enslavement in Cuba, she sought to understand why this trafficking has remained largely overlooked in historiography. Her thesis was awarded the UZH Semesterpreis in the spring semester of 2022. Prior to that, her work centered on the role of women in postwar Okinawa in the wake of the infamous 1995 rape and more generally speaking, within the larger context of the fiftieth anniversary of the Second World War's end. Her research interests hence lie in Global History, colonial history, and cross-cultural encounters. Alongside her studies, she is assistant to Damian at the Department for Social and Economic History, where she is responsible for the coordination of the workshop.

Past Participants

  • Andrew Edwards (University of St. Andrews)
  • Atiya Hussain (Geneva Graduate Institute)
  • Brian Gettler (University of Toronto)
  • Debjani Bhattacharyya (University of Zurich)
  • Emilie Connolly (Brandeis University)
  • Francisco Cebreiro Ares (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)
  • James Taylor (Lancaster University)
  • Joseph la Hausse de Lalouvière (University of Cambridge)
  • Kim Oosterlinck (Université libre de Bruxelles)
  • Mandy Izadi (Harvard University and University of Oxford)
  • Martin Dusinberre (University of Zurich)
  • Mischa Suter (Geneva Graduate Institute)
  • Sofia Valeonti (American University of Paris)
  • Srinivas Dusi (Hyderabad College)


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