On the 3rd March 2016 PEIC was delighted to host Dr Catia Antunes and the students from her two projects, Challenging Monopolies and Fighting Monopolies for a workshop at the Counting House, London. We were also fortunate to have the input of Phil Stern, in his last event as a PEIC visiting fellow.
Designed around a set of pre-circulated papers with 7 minute ‘pitches’, the event aimed to bring together three projects with apparently contradictory outlooks on corporate activity in the long seventeenth century. The full programme is available via the link. The postgraduate students from each project offered a precis of their research, and lively conversation followed each pair of pitches.
As well as some particular insights for individual researchers, the workshop offered a useful opportunity to reflect on the overarching ambitions of the projects, and the discipline of ‘corporate history’ as a whole. Questions such as ‘what is the precise nature of a corporation?’, ‘Is there such as thing as “institutional memory,” and if so, how can we study it?’ and ‘what kind of grand narrative might we construct about corporations?’ provided much food for thought, and prompted enlightening discussion.
Perhaps the most useful aspect of the workshop was the opening up of a move beyond national historiographies to a pan-European, even global, perspective. By bringing these projects together, we can construct an unusually comprehensive knowledge and source base, which would be unavailable to an individual researcher outside of projects such as these. Finding the overlaps between collective and individual projects will allow comparative and integrated studies across a range of European companies, in a way that is rarely seen in current work.
The evening culminated with the entrance of the pies, the counting house’s specialty and something much looked forward to throughout the day. Even the food, though, could not stop the productive and stimulating conversation. We hope to continue these conversations in the coming weeks and months, and are optimistic for future productive engagement between the three teams.