ECON 218
Capital and Coercion Fall 2023
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed GBST 218

Class Details

Capital, tradable ownership shares in long-lived corporations, invented in the 17th century, has connected people of different races, religions, and geographies. There are huge profits from such economic interactions, but also risks: of being cheated, deceived, or coerced. This course uses insights from the economics of incentives (principal-agent models, contracts, mechanism design) to investigate the interplay between capital, coercion, and resistance. The role of prejudice will be central, as will the rise of middlemen as enforcers of coercion. Case studies span the 17th century to the 20th and include: the spice trade and conflict in the Indian Ocean, capital markets and fraud in Amsterdam and London, the Atlantic trade in enslaved people, the Dutch “cultivation system” in Java, the slow end of slavery in Brazil, and colonial control and independence in Kenya. Required readings for this class will include primary historical sources, and even excerpts from autobiographical novels!
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 1774
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Students will be evaluated based on weekly reading responses, class participation, a midterm and a final.
Prerequisites: Econ 110
Enrollment Preferences: If overenrolled, students will be asked to submit a short statement of interest.
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
GBST 218 Division II ECON 218 Division II
DPE Notes: This course analyzes the evolution of economic inequity. It analyzes how global market opportunities have been shaped by race, religion, wealth, and power.
Attributes: GBST Economic Development Studies Electives
POEC Depth

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