Sven Beckert

Beckert speaking at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2016

Sven Beckert is Laird Bell Professor of American History at Harvard University, where he teaches the history of the United States in the nineteenth century, and global history.[1] With Christine A. Desan, he is the co-director of the Program on the Study of Capitalism at Harvard University.[2]

He studied history, economics and political science at the University of Hamburg, Germany and then graduated from Columbia University with a PhD in History. He was an American Council of Learned Societies Fellow.[3] He was a Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies Fellow.[4] He was a New York Public Library Fellow.[5] He is a Guggenheim Fellow.[6]


He is the author of Empire of Cotton: A Global History (2014), which won the 2015 Bancroft Prize and was a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for History.[7] The New York Times called it "one of the ten best books of 2015."[8] Economic historian Peer Vries wrote that it was "a must read for every historian interested in global history, but in my view it is better as a story on cotton than as an analysis of capitalism."[9] Other economic historians have criticized the book.[10]


  • Beckert, Sven (2014). Empire of Cotton: A Global History. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-385-35325-0.
  • —— (2001). The Monied Metropolis. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-52410-0.

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  1. ^ "History of American Civilization Department Profile". Archived from the original on October 19, 2007.
  2. ^ "Christine A. Desan". Harvard Law School. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
  3. ^ "ACLS profile: Sven Beckert F'08".
  4. ^ "Prof. Dr. Sven Beckert - Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies". Archived from the original on July 26, 2011.
  5. ^ "Past Fellows: 1999-2008". Archived from the original on July 27, 2011.
  6. ^ "Sven Beckert - John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation". Archived from the original on October 8, 2011.
  7. ^ "The 2015 Pulitzer Prize Winners History". Retrieved May 16, 2015.
  8. ^ "The 10 Best Books of 2015". The New York Times. 2015-12-03. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  9. ^ Vries, Peter (2017). "Cotton, Capitalism, and Coercion: Some Comments on Sven Beckert's Empire of Cotton". Journal of World History. 28: 131–140. doi:10.1353/jwh.2017.0006.
  10. ^ Olmstead, Alan L.; Rhode, Paul W. (2018). "Cotton, slavery, and the new history of capitalism". Explorations in Economic History. 67: 1–17. doi:10.1016/j.eeh.2017.12.002.

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