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Grant number like: FA-55617-11

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Thomas Max Safley
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA 19104-6205)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2011 – 6/30/2012

A Study of Bankruptcy in Early Modern Europe

Economic scholarship has long viewed failure as intrinsic to capitalism, the price of prosperity. History, including recent events, seems to agree. My project examines this connection by studying bankruptcy cases in early modern Europe, another time when economic failure became a social problem. Hundreds of legal proceedings provide documents that reveal who the capitalists were, how they conducted their businesses, what motivated their actions and why those actions sometimes failed. By including a variety of prescriptive sources, this project sets the praxis of capitalism in institutional context. The result revisits capitalism as contingent to its cultural, social and political matrices.