As an economic anthropologist, I examine the cultural and political history of the corporation, with an emphasis on early banking and currency. I analyze this relatively new form of social organization through the lens of colonial historiography, governmentality, and development theory in two distinct locales.
In the Ontario case, I have written extensively on the corporate origins of early Canada’s transition to a capitalist economy. In particular, I have contrasted the economic vehicles created by groups of utopian socialists (the “Children of Peace”) to meet public needs, with the chartered corporations created by “gentlemanly capitalists” as a way of governing the economy. Theories of governmentality and social capital are melded with political economy to provide an alternate interpretation of the emergence of Canada’s democratic traditions.
In the Indonesian case, I similarly examine the “transition debate” in the light of the development of Dutch Royal corporations as a governmental strategy to manage the "pauper" as well as the "native". Comparative analysis of Dutch colonialism in Indonesia and British colonialism in Canada provide insights into the historic means by which those strategies Foucault called “governmentality” developed in specific political economic and cultural situations. The emphasis again is on the effects of economic governmentality on development and democracy.
My most recent work examines the impact of the financial crisis of 1836 (in many ways similar to the crisis of 2008) on the Great Lakes Region; and in particular in creating the conditions for the Mayville "Riots" of 1836 (Erie Co., NY), the Upper and Lower Canadian "Rebellions" of 1837, and the "Patriot Wars of 1838-9" which engulfed the entire region, bringing the British Empire and United States to the brink of war. Analysis remains focused on the nature of money and banking in the region, and the role of early corporations in fomenting both wide-spread discontent and democratic reform.
2011 “A Genealogy of Corporate Governmentality in the Realm of the ‘Merchant-King’: The Netherlands Trading Company and the Management of Dutch Paupers” Economy & Society 40(3): 373-98.
2011 “Policing Production: Corporate Governmentality and the Cultivation System” Focaal: Journal of Historical and Global Anthropology, 2011 (61): 75-90.
2011 “‘Money bound you – money shall loose you”: Gift Giving, Social Capital and the Meaning of Money in Upper Canada” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 53(2): 1-30.
2010 “Regenten (‘Gentlemanly’) Capitalism: Saint-Simonian Technocracy and the emergence of the ‘Industrial Great Club’ in the mid-Nineteenth-Century Netherlands” Enterprise and Society 11(3): 1-31.
2010 “The Gentlemanly Order & the Politics of Production in the Transition to Capitalism in Upper Canada” Labour/ Le Travail 65(1): 9-45.