In her new book, Economistes and the Reinvention of Empire: France in the Americas and Africa, c. 1750-1802
(Cambridge UP, 2020), Dr. Pernille Røge charts the confluence and reciprocal impacts of ideas and policies espoused by political economists, colonial administrators, planters, and entrepreneurs to reform the French empire in the second half of the eighteenth century. Due to this diffusion of observations and ideas, French economic philosophers who called themselves “economistes” and later “physiocrats” were able to formulate and advocated for new French colonial doctrines that emphasized agricultural development, free labor, commercial liberalization, and colonial economic and legal integration during and after the Seven Years War (1756-1763). While meeting initial resistance, such reform efforts inspired many imperial agendas enacted by French Revolutionary leaders as well as those by subsequent French imperialists. Deeply researched from records from three continents, Economistes and the Reinvention of Empire
offers an enlightening perspective on critical French Atlantic political-economic development and imperial reformulation, with intellectual, economic, and political relevance that last till this day.
Dr. Pernille Røge is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh and the convener of Pitt’s Early Modern Worlds Initiative
Grant Kleiser is a Ph.D. candidate in the Columbia University History Department. His dissertation researches the development of the free-port system in the eighteenth-century Caribbean, investigating the rationale for such moves towards “free trade” and the impact these policies had on subsequent philosophers, policy-makers, and revolutionaries in the Atlantic word.