Research interests: History of the United States, Urban/Spatial History, History of Capitalism, History of Globalization.
The Great American Leap Forward: Yankee Leviathan and the Making of Modern Capitalism
In the latter decades of the nineteenth century, the United States went through a dramatic transformation as the former cotton-exporting slave republic emerged as the world’s foremost industrial nation. How did this sharp turn from agricultural exports to large-scale industry come about? This research demonstrates the centrality of American government policies in nurturing this shift. It shows how government institutions deployed an array of promotional policies to orchestrate economic development. Far from subordinate to business interests, the state not only created markets but more proactively shaped market activity, adding up to a veritable developmental state. The research explores the U.S. alongside other frontier economies in the late nineteenth century, examining the U.S., not as an incipient world hegemon, but as a developing nation. It interrogates why the U.S. industrialized while other rapidly expanding nations became ever more dependent on agricultural exports.
Given the dominant place of the U.S. in how modern capitalism has long been theorized and understood, this research aims to engage with a range of research fields in the social sciences. It uncovers a more complicated history of state and market relations under capitalism than existing paradigms have been willing to fathom. Especially given the rise of China and the policy reverberations of Covid, which softened the resilience of the Washington Consensus, the project aims to be part of an urgent rethinking of capitalism, not strictly as a market-led system, but as a co-production of private and public actors.
Noam Maggor is a Senior Lecturer in the School of History at Queen Mary University of London. He is a historian of the United States during the ‘long’ nineteenth century, with interests in the history of capitalism, the state, business, populism, and comparative political economy. His first book, Brahmin Capitalism: Frontiers of Wealth and Populism in America's First Gilded Age, published by Harvard University Press in 2017, examined how an illustrious cohort of Bostonian financiers helped transform American capitalism at the end of the nineteenth century. Maggor is more generally interested in rethinking economic change as politically driven and deeply ideological, transcending conceptual divides between economics, politics, culture, and society. He has held fellowships at Harvard, Cornell, Vanderbilt, and Tel Aviv University.