New Directions in the Histories of Credit, Debt, and Financial Intermediaries

AHA Session 306
Sunday, January 8, 2017: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM
Centennial Ballroom B (Hyatt Regency Denver, Third Floor)
Nicole Mottier, Stetson University
Juliette Levy, University of California, Riverside
Christiaan van Bochove, Radboud University
Erika Vause, Florida Southern College
Louise E. Walker, Northeastern University
Nicole Mottier, Stetson University

Session Abstract

Histories of credit and debt have been explicated through the lens of either "the local" or "the national". This roundtable aims to take the histories of credit, debt and financial intermediaries like bankers, moneylenders, pharmacists and shopkeepers in new directions by placing the local particularities of lending relationships in comparative context by cutting across space, time, and socio-economic class. Indeed, webs of credit and debt, in which men and women borrowed from and lent to one another, varied in shape, depth and thickness for each individual. When surveying the global historiography on loan relationships, what is striking is how similarly men and women behaved financially across time and space. This roundtable brings together historians of the Netherlands during the early modern period, eighteenth and nineteenth-century France, and twentieth-century Mexico to examine the dimensions of one of the world’s most common and significant relationships: that between creditors and debtors.

Panelists and audience members will grapple with some of the most fundamental conceptual dilemmas within the discipline of History that still remain relevant today: How did individuals use different types of loans to navigate the uncertainties in their lives in the best way possible? How did intermediaries perform their roles and deal with crises like war? How and why did capitalism deepen in these vastly different times and places through peoples’ interactions with credit and debt? What is the relationship between intermediaries, accountability, trust, property right enforcement and legal institutions? How did the practice of justice change over time? Who was trustworthy, and how was trustworthiness performed and evaluated in these financial relationships?

The roundtable brings together both established and early-career scholars who will draw on a variety of historiographical traditions in order to explore histories of credit and debt in innovative ways. The chair/commentator will offer opening comments, then panelists will provide very brief discussions of their current scholarship, and from there, we will invite the audience to join in the conversation. By bringing together people with an interest in credit, debt, capitalism and financial culture, this roundtable hopes to encourage new ways of conceptualizing loans and their significance to the human experience.

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