International conference: ‘Commodities and Environments in Early Modern Global Asia, 1400–1800’, European University Institute Florence, 13-15 November 2024.

This three-day international conference explores the relationship between environments and commodities in early modern Global Asia between 1400 and 1800. It investigates the environmental consequences in these regions of the extraction, production and trade in commodities. An exhibition at the Bibliotheca Riccardiana titled 'Commodities and Environments: Florence and the Indo Atlantic Worlds, 1500-1800/Mercanzia e Natura: Firenze e il Mondo Indo Atlantico, 1500-1800 will accompany this conference.

Conference paper

On 5 July, Guillemette Crouzet and Giorgio Riello presented a paper based on their research on Ananda Ranga Pillai's diary titled ‘Rethinking “French” and “British” India: The “Diary” of Ananda Ranga Pillai’ at the workshop 'New Worlds of the East India Company', which took place at the Royal Asiatic Society in London.

Conference: New Worlds of the East India Company SOLD OUT
New Worlds of the East India Company Please note that this event has now sold out. 5 July 2024 Royal Asiatic Society, 14 Stephenson Way, London, NW1 2HD 9.30. Coffee 9:45. Introduction: John McAleer (Southampton) and Joshua Ehrlich (Macau) 10:00. Panel 1: Beginnings, Ends, and Legacies Rupali Mishra (Auburn):…

Workshop - 'Commodities, Spaces of Making and New Trends in Researching Global Asia'

This one-day workshop will take place on 11 June 2024. The morning session features papers by the CAPASIA team and two collaborators on 'spaces of making' in Global Asia, while the afternoon is dedicated to a series of presentations by a variety of guest scholars.

Commodities, spaces of making, and new trends in researching Global Asia
Two workshops in the framework of the ERC-project, CAPASIA.

CAPASIA visit Globalise at the Huygens Institute, Amsterdam

In light of the ongoing collaboration between GLOBALISE and CAPASIA, two members of the CAPASIA team, digital advisor Sebastian Majstorovic and postdoc Maarten Draper visited the GLOBALISE team at the Spinhuis in Amsterdam on 21 May 2024. Different members of the GLOBALISE team offered their views on the further development of datasets on shipping, currencies, locations, and visual materials. In the afternoon, Majstorovic and Draper gave a presentation on the CAPASIA project in the Globalise seminar.

Event Link:

For more on GLOBALISE:

Seminar Paper: 'A Taste for Mocha: Competing for the Coffee Trade in the Eighteenth Century’

Guillemette Crouzet gave a paper titled 'A Taste for Mocha: Competing for the Coffee Trade in the Eighteenth Century’ at the Cambridge Global Economic History Seminar, 7 May 2024.

At the beginning of the 18th century, a series of maritime expeditions left Saint Malo in Brittany on the French Atlantic, bound for a port city situated thousands of miles away on the barren coast of Yemen bordering the strait of Bab el Mandeb, and called al-Mukha. The aim was to open a direct coffee trade route between France and Yemen via the Cape of Good Hope. Until the 1730s, Yemen would remain the only region in the world where the beans used to make an increasingly popular beverage, coffee, could be sourced. And until 1709 and the first Malouin expedition to al-Mukha, most coffee beans reached the French market via the rival of Marseilles, which was the terminus of a sea and land route linking the Red Sea with the Mediterranean and the Yemeni highlands with Suez, Cairo and Alexandria. At this juncture, merchants from Marseille dominated the commodity trade with the Ottoman Mediterranean. The Malouins’ ventures in Yemen have sometimes been seen as part of the successful push of the private trade on Asian markets during the period spanning from 1680 to 1720 to the expense of state-sponsored chartered companies. The opening of a new route for this new commodity that was coffee has also been seen as part of the provincialization of the Red Sea and Mediterranean in the map of the world’s trade. This paper argues that this new route only temporarily challenged the old one. In the first decades of the eighteenth century, most of the coffee beans directed to the French and to some extent European markets remained traded along the Red Sea and Mediterranean and via Marseille. It was instead the development of coffee plantations in the French Antilles in the Atlantic from the 1730s that ultimately transformed the geography of coffee.

Workshop on Early Modern Capitalism at the University of Oxford

At the end of April 2024 Giorgio Riello and Michael O'Sullivan were participants in the workshop "Early Modern Capitalism: Trade, Risk and Profit" held at the University of Oxford. The event was sponsored by the History of Capitalism Project, Brasenose College, the History Faculty, and the Economic History Society. Riello and O'Sullivan's paper was titled "Production in Early Modern Asia and the Limits of Trade-centric Histories of Commercial Capitalism."

For more information see:

Renaissance Society of America Annual Meeting - 2024

In March 2024, Giorgio Riello and Renata Cabral Bernabé delivered papers at the Renaissance Society of America (RSA) that took place in Chicago, USA. Giorgio Riello presented the paper Francesco Carletti and Global History: A Collective Global Microhistory? as part of the panel "Trading at the Edge of Empires: Francesco Carletti's World, c. 1600" chaired by Luca Molà; and Renata Cabral Bernabé presented the paper Cultural Interaction Protagonists: Native Assistants in Early Modern Japanese Christian Mission Development as part of the panel "The Global Renaissance: The Transmission of European Culture in the Early Modern Era" chaired by Giuseppe Marino.

Two-day workshop in Chennai at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras - "Circuits of Exchange and Indian Ocean Hinterlands, c. 1400-1800" - February 2024

In mid-February 2024 the CAPASIA team organized a two-day workshop at IIT Madras in Chennai alongside Professor John Bosco Lourdusamy and Dr. Thamarai Selvan Kannan. The papers from the workshop will appear in time as a journal roundtable dedicated to 'Spaces of Making' in early modern South Asia.

GLOBALISE visit to villa Salviati, Florence - 5 February 2024

On 5 February 2024,  Dr. Manjusha Kuruppath and dr. Matthias van Rossum (PI) of the GLOBALISE project, funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO), and based at the Huygens Institute of History in Amsterdam, visited the EUI. In the morning the possibilities for collaborations between CAPASIA and GLOBALISE were discussed and in the afternoon dr. Kuruppath and dr. van Rossum delivered a guest lecture on their project on area seminar Digital Methods in History run by prof. G. Casale and prof. E. Mourlon-Druol.

For more on GLOBALISE:

Port Cities Infrastructure in Global Asia - NYU Shanghai, November 2023

In late November 2023 the CAPASIA team traveled to Shanghai to participate in the workshop 'Port Cities Infrastructures in Global Asia.' The event was organized by Professor Tansen Sen, chair of the Center for Global Asia at NYU Shanghai.

Online Lecture at the University of Oxford - "Where is Asia in the History of Early Modern Capitalism" - November 2023

On 20 November 2023 Giorgio Riello and Michael O'Sullivan delivered a revised version of their paper, 'Where is Asia in the History of Early Modern Capitalism,' to the University of Oxford's Indian Ocean in the Age of Empire Working Group.

Fore information see the url:

Lecture at the University of Geneva - "Where is Asia in the History of Early Modern Capitalism" - November 2023

On 2 November 2023 Giorgio Riello and Michael O'Sullivan gave a lecture titled "Where is Asia in the History of Early Modern Capitalism" to the Institut d'histoire économique Paul Bairoch at the University of Geneva.

Agenda des événements de l’Université de Genève - ” Where is Asia in the History of Early Modern Capitalism ”

Nodes of Early Modern Capitalism II - September 2023

On 21 and 22 September 2023 the CAPASIA project hosted the second installment of the 'Nodes of Early Modern Capitalism' conference. Bringing together an international cohort of scholars, this two-day event will lead in due course to the publication of an edited volume that shares the title of the conference.

For more information see:

Summer Talks - Connected Histories of Capitalism

Join us for our 2023 Lecture Series Summer Talks on Connected Histories of Capitalism at the European University Institute (Florence, Italy) and on Zoom in June and September!

Programme and links for registration

Jointly organised by CAPASIA with the the European Research Council project ECOINT – Twentieth-Century International Economic Thinking and the Complex History of Globalization and the EUI Conversations on the New Histories of Capitalism Working Group


Where is Asia in the History of Early Modern Capitalism?

Giorgio Riello (European University Institute) and Michael O’Sullivan (CAPASIA project) present Where is Asia in the History of Early Modern Capitalism?

Time and place: May 15, 2023 2:15 PM–5:30 PM, Håndbiblioteket 534, Niels Treschows Hus, Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History, University of Oslo

Where is Asia in the History of Early Modern Capitalism? - Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History
Giorgio Riello (European University Institute) and Michael O’Sullivan (CAPASIA project) presents Where is Asia in the History of Early Modern Capitalism?

This talk argues that early modern Asia is fast gaining greater consideration in histories and conceptualizations of capitalism on account of two developments: 1) a new emphasis on land as a natural resource for production; and 2) a view of Asian labour as a reservoir of human capital instead of simply an unskilled, coerced or enslaved population.

In making this argument, we disentangle the question of capitalism from growth and account for disparities within Asia. We also reckon with the reluctance of historians of Asia to embrace the term capitalism. Indeed, since the late 1990s, economic historians of Asia have been united in criticizing the application to Asia of paradigms formulated in reference to early modern European capitalism. Reluctant though many historians of early modern Asia may be to endorse capitalism as an analytical concept, we believe that this creates an imbalance that continues to anchor scholarship to Euro-centred conceptualisations. The danger in this is twofold: in roundabout fashion it enshrines European exceptionalism, and it marginalizes the substantial advances in the study of economic life in early modern Asia over the past generation.


Giorgio Riello is Professor of Early Modern Global History at the European University Institute and the Principal Investigator of the ERC Advanced Project CAPASIA. He is also Professor of Global History and Culture at Warwick University.

Michael O’Sullivan is Senior Research Fellow for the CAPASIA project. Before his current position, he held fellowships at Harvard and Yale universities. His book on the histories of Gujarati Muslim commercial castes will be published by Harvard University Press later this year.

Opening Lecture of the CAPASIA project

Speaker: Tirthankar Roy (London School of Economics)

Time and place: 27 April 2023, 17.00 CEST, Hybrid (Villa Salviati, Sala del Consiglio, and via Zoom)


The talk confronts an anomaly in the history of European colonialism in Asia and Africa, namely that prior to the eighteenth century, European power was negligible compared to interior states. Typically, historians of colonialism stress either the pursuit of political opportunism or the combatting of political threats to explain how European seaborne power became terrestrial. Drawing on examples from South and Southeast Asia, this talk instead asks whether the control of the sea sustained campaigns inland. Evidence suggests three locational advantages were prerequisites: a stable supply of food and water, relatively easy transportation access into the interior, and agglomeration prospects.

16 March 2023

14:30 — 16:00

CAPASIA Lecture at the Istituto Storico Italo-Germanico, Trento

On 16 March 2023, Professor Giorgio Riello (CAPASIA Principal Investigator) and Michael O'Sullivan (Senior Research Fellow) traveled to the Istituto Storico Italo-Germanico in Trento to deliver a lecture on the CAPASIA project. For further information see the link below:

CAPASIA: The Asian origins of global capitalism: European factories in the Indian Ocean, 1500-1800
In this presentation, Giorgio Riello (Principal Investigator) and Michael O’Sullivan (Senior Research Fellow) introduce CAPASIA, an ERC-funded research project based at the European University Institute in Florence.