Global issues such as climate change and the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis have spurred interest in thinking about the history of the modern economy that goes beyond disciplinary economic history. This book contributes to the cultural history of capitalism and its different regimes of productivity by pursuing the perspective of body history and by providing a global scope. Throughout modernity, the body served as a fundamental, albeit essentially changing, linchpin for both the organization of economic practices and for intellectual reflections on the economy. In particular, it was the pivotal interface to render notions of economic productivity intelligible. The book explores this central thesis in a range of case studies, drawing on source material from West Africa, Europe, Mexico, and the US. Framed by a theoretically informed introduction, which also provides a conceptual history of notions of productivity, and by an afterword that brings the approaches explored in this volume into dialogue with scholarship inspired by Marx and Foucault, the individual chapters tackle the concept of productivity from a wide array of angles, each illuminating the promises and problems of a cultural take on the history of economic productivity.
Table of Contents
1. Histories of Productivity: An Introduction
[Peter-Paul Bänziger, Marcel Streng and Mischa Suter]
Part I: Capitalism and Its Emerging Regimes of Productivity
Introduction to Part I
[Mischa Suter and Peter-Paul Bänziger]
2. Transgressing Static Concepts: Population, Economy, and Growth in Early Modern Bioeconomics
3. African Women and the "Lazy African" Myth in Nineteenth Century West Africa
4. Saving the Supply and Making People Work: Sustainability, Labor, and Control of Production in the Rubber Trade of Southeast Cameroon, 1899–1903
5. Useful Knowledge: The Monetary Education of Children and the Moralization of Productivity in the Nineteenth Century
6. The Contested Productivity of the Baker’s Body: Technology, Industrialization, and Labor in Nineteenth Century France
Part II: Transformations of Twentieth-Century Productivism
Introduction to Part II
[Peter-Paul Bänziger and Mischa Suter]
7. Feeding Productive Bodies: Calories, Nutritional Values, and Ability in the Progressive Era US
8. Regaining Sufficiency: Work Therapy in 1930s German Internal Medicine
9. Tracing the Developmentalist Regime of Productivity: Nation, Urban Space, and Workers’ Habitat in Mexico City, 1940s–1970s
10. Waste or Motivation?: The Productivity Discourse Between Past and Future in the Second Half of the Twentieth Century
11. Afterword: Histories of Productivity and Modes of Production
Peter-Paul Bänziger is currently the recipient of an Ambizione grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation at the University of Basel.
Mischa Suter is a lecturer in Modern European History at the University of Basel.