Professor Beckert researches and teaches the history of the United States in the nineteenth century, with a particular emphasis on the history of capitalism, including its economic, social, political and transnational dimensions. He just published Empire of Cotton: A Global History, the first global history of the nineteenth century’s most important commodity. The book won the Bancroft Award, The Philip Taft Award, the Cundill Recognition for Excellence and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The New York Times named it one of the ten most important books of 2015. His other publications have focused on the nineteenth-century bourgeoisie, on labor, on democracy, on global history and on the connections between slavery and capitalism. Currently he is at work on a history of capitalism. Beckert teaches courses on the political economy of modern capitalism, the history of American capitalism, Gilded Age America, labor history, global capitalism and the history of European capitalism. Together with a group of students he has also worked on the historical connections between Harvard and slavery and published Harvard and Slavery: Seeking a Forgotten History.
Beckert is co-chair of the Program on the Study of Capitalism at Harvard University , and co-chair of the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History (WIGH). Beyond Harvard, he co-chairs an international study group on global history, is co-editor of a series of books at Princeton University Press on “America in the World,” and has co-organized a series of conferences on the history of capitalism. He is a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow. He also directs the Harvard College Europe Program.
- Slavery's Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development (University of Pennsylvania Press, August 2016)
- Empire of Cotton: A Global History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014) (forthcoming also in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Turkish, Russian, Italian, German and Spanish)
- The Monied Metropolis: New York City and the Consolidation of the American Bourgeoisie Cambridge University Press (2001; paperback 2003)
- The American Bourgeoisie: Distinction and Identity in the Nineteenth Century. co-edited with Julia Rosenbaum (New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2010)
- "From Tuskegee to Togo" in Journal of American History (September) (2005)
- "Emancipation and Empire: Reconstructing the Worldwide Web of Cotton Production in the Age of the American Civil War" in American Historical Review Issue 109 (Dec 2004), pp. 1405-1438 (2004)
- "Democracy and Its Discontents: Contesting Suffrage Rights in Gilded Age New York" in Past and Present (February 2002), pp. 114-155 (2002)
Awards for Empire of Cotton
Winner of the Bancroft Prize
Pulitzer Prize Finalist
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