What does it mean to write “intimate” histories of economic life? This episode of the History Workshop podcast brings together a group of scholars drawn together by precisely those questions. They began meeting in May 2021, each bringing their own research topic and working together to explore the virtues and limits of making the economy intimate. For some, intimacy itself was their subject matter – the emotional dimensions of economic transactions; for others, intimacy was a kind of methodology, denoting a small-scale, close-up, grassroots approach to a subject. Their aim as a group was to ask what a focus on ‘intimate histories’ could offer to historical writing and historical perception – how it might transform the way historians traditionally write and see.
In addition to the six scholars who came together to record this discussion, the larger group is comprised of researchers engaged in these questions from diverse perspectives and geographies, all with racialized and gendered inequalities of capitalism at the heart of their inquiries. Their concerns range from marriage as capital in the antebellum United States and the Indian Ocean to Black women and banking in the Caribbean, from caste and economic invisibility in modern Korea to sex trafficking in/as contemporary finance. For a full listing of contributors and paper abstracts, please visit the project blog.
Produced by Marybeth Hamilton