Roads to Modernity

The 2008 stock market debacle sparked interest among historians to revisit the history of capitalism (though many historians had been working on this before).  At the same time, several historians published works about the influence of slavery on modern business organization and even some of the hallmark features of liberal free trade economics.  I’m interested in the history of capitalism, slavery, and modern structures of stratification both within the U.S. and across nations.

Author Gertrude Himmelfarb published Roads to Modernity (2005) as a reaction to postmodern critiques of the Enlightenment with its emphasis on Reason as the great liberator, the contradictions between revolutions for freedom and liberty, while most of the American (U.S.) population were slaves.  Himmelfarb hoped to renew interest in the key figures of the British Enlightenment such as David Hume and Adam Smith.  Since the book came out, there have been several other works pertaining to the Enlightenment and science and slavery.  For instance Anthony Pagden released The Enlightenment: And Why It Still Matters (2013).  Pagden, like Himmelfarb, wanted to focus on the ideas of liberty and freedom which carried over from the Enlightenment to today’s Western culture.

This blog is not a celebration or an evolutionary narrative of Western modernity and/ or liberalism, instead, this blog focuses on multiple and pluralistic narratives about the making of the modern world, through history, political struggles, art, and even music.

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