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Michaelmas Term 2019

Tuesdays 5pm, Trinity Hall, Trinity Lane.


Jointly with Legal Histories Beyond the State

Wednesday 30 October
Venue: Finley Library, Lauterpacht Centre, 5 Cranmer Road

Annabel Brett (University of Cambridge)
Use, war, and commercial society. Changing paradigms of human relations with animals in the early modern law of nature and of nations


12 November (venue: Lecture Theatre)
Mark Stoll (Texas Tech University / Rachel Carson Centre)
The Religious Roots of Environmentalist Thought and Activism in Europe and America

3 December (venue: Leslie Stephen Room)

Jennifer Keating (University College Dublin)
Prospecting and bioprospecting on Russia's Central Asian cotton frontier, 1880s - 1916

For Michaelmas term please also see Core seminars in Economic and Social History

24 October 2019
Tracy Dennison (Caltech)
The Political Economy of Serfdom: State Capacity and Institutional Change in Prussia and Russia


In contrast to medieval forms of serfdom, which disappeared during a gradual process of change over many centuries, the ‘second serfdom’ in central and eastern Europe ended abruptly, with a series of state decrees between the late-eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries. Or so it appears. In fact, most of the emancipation decrees east of the river Elbe did little to alter the underlying institutional equilibrium in which serfdom had been embedded – an equilibrium in which the crown was dependent on other elite groups to carry out many basic functions of government in its localities. This talk uses the contrasting cases of Prussia and Russia to examine the political economy of serfdom, the growth of the central state, and the process of institutional change. Emancipation, it will be suggested, was more a matter of increasing revenues for the crown than improving the lives of the peasants. This agenda was pursued with greater success in Prussia than in Russia. Why? The comparative exercise raises interesting questions about the nature of institutions, the growth of the state, the process of institutional change, and our understanding of “inclusive” and “extractive” institutional configurations.

14 November 2019
Guido Alfani (Bocconi University) and Matteo Di Tullio (University of Pavia)
Roundtable discussion: The Lion’s Share: Inequality and the Rise of the Fiscal State in Preindustrial Europe (2019)
Commentators: Craig Muldrew, Sheilagh Ogilvie, Pedro Ramos Pinto


 Michaelmas Term 2019 programme - print version


For more information:


The Faculty is currently accepting applications for the Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship match funding by the Isaac Newton Trust. Deadline: 12 pm (noon) on Thursday 2 January 2020.


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