July 28th 2022

PA.034 | Territorial resources and economic spaces (16th-19th centuries)

Parallel Sessions
The object of this session is to study space, both geographic and organizational, as a component of the expectations, decisions and strategies of economic actors. This refers to a constructivist approach to resources, considering them as the result of the capacity of actors to transform into economic assets what may exist in a latent or virtual state. Space should be considered as much as a potential constraint, a source of market imperfection or a factor of uncertainty, as a lever for profit and speculative opportunities, whether legal or not. The aim is to study how various actors - individuals, collective organisations or political authorities - identify and use the characteristics of the territory as economic resources or a competitive advantage of the space (such as political frontiers, fiscal limits, distance from markets, and geographical brands) that they can exploit. Territorial resources, beyond their characteristics linked to their location, are constructed through the interplay of actors, their coordination and their possible competition and conflicts. So, the aim is to understand how these territorial resources, once identified for their value or competitive advantage, are integrated into strategies for setting up or developing activities or in economic policy decisions. This raises the question of the scope of action of the actors and the different scales at which resources are mobilized. Such a territorial approach has the advantage of increasing the complexity of thinking about the diversity of types of resources (including natural assets, social relations, labour, taxes, skills, capital, institutional and regulatory regimes) but also of paying new attention to their combination. It is thus a way of looking at the role that spatial considerations play in relation to these other types of resources.
A - General Economics and Teaching
A12 - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
N - Economic History
R - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics
R12 - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity
Conchon Anne
Patricia HUDSON - Cardiff Unversity
Clandestine Geographies in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World
David Chan SMITH - Wilfrid Laurier University
This paper explores how particular early modern ports specialized in clandestine trade, examines how they actively pursued this specialization (and internally debated whether this strategy was desirable), and developed and defended their commercial networks. The paper links to the spatial turn in economic history by arguing how these locations established themselves as entrepôts in commercial space by making use of their anomalous status in jurisdictional space. Their position as nodes of the illicit economy and conduits across the tariff barriers of early modern states typically depended on historical privileges. Despite their homogenizing strategies, emerging European nation-states frequently confirmed or even expanded these privileges. Governments tolerated these zones of illicit trade for their own strategic purposes, demonstrating how jurisdictional anomalies were useful tools both for states and particular interest groups in the period’s geopolitical calculations. The focus of the paper is on Britain’s “near network” of smuggling geographies such as the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey, but explores their connection to global networks reaching to America and Asia.
The Economic Space of Freight Forwarding in France (18th-early 19th centuries)
Conchon Anne
The freight forwarders ensure, under their responsibility, the shipment of goods, the grouping of consignments for the same city and the chartering. They are obliged to keep the goods stored in their warehouses until they are dispatched, to negotiate the best rates with the carriers and to inform their principals of the arrivals and departures of goods. Their role was essential in a context where there were relatively few professional carriers operating directly over long distances. A large number of shipments are carried out by local hauliers who follow each other to carry out a segment of the route. Such a division of the transport chain therefore works through freight forwarders or innkeepers who interconnect the shipments. The aim of this article is to understand the economic and geographical rationalities that underlie the location of these forwarding agents, according to the accessibility of the cities where they are located, and their role in the spatial structuring of trade.
Gender, Resource Constraints and Product Quality in Charles I’s England: A Case of the Westminster Soap Company, c. 1632-1641
Koji Yamamoto - University of Tokyo
This paper combines the concepts of gender and space in order to revisit one of the best-known episodes of England’s so-called fiscal feudalism: the soap monopoly. Common soaps made and sold in England traditionally relied on foreign potash imported via the Baltic. The Westminster Soap Company, established in 1632, was an undertaking to replace these existing products (and thus improve the ‘balance of trade’) by monopolising the market with the 'New Soap' replying exclusively on domestic raw materials. Previous studies of the soap monopoly have focused on either the production side (soap-boilers' resistance) or the fiscal side (the imposition of de-facto consumption tax). Consequently, no account has examined the episode from an explicitly gendered or spatial perspectives. I propose to fill the gap by combining these two angles. I shall explore how a resource constraint in England - the lack of suitable trees for producing high-quality potash - led to the production of sub-standard soap that damaged both cloths and the fingers of those washerwomen who washed them. The problem of product quality was never seriously addressed, however, because laundry was dominated by poorer women and because they had virtually no access to effective channels of communication by which to voice their grievances. By combining sources conventionally studied by economic historians, political historians and social historians of gender relations, this paper examines how the seemingly ‘high’ politics of import substitution and resource constraints intersected with washerwomen’s everyday work and their (limited) access to political spaces. I will conclude by reflecting on a larger conceptual issue: what happens to studies of territorial resources and economic spaces when we bring gender into the equation?
Economic Actors in the Face of the Spatial Distribution of Trade Income Tax (France and French colonies, 1710s - 1840s)
Boris DESCHANEL - University of Avignon
In preindustrial 18th and 19th-century France, the efforts to introduce a special tax on business incomes seem very imperfect. Nevertheless, several attempts emerged: repartition taxes under the Old Regime (whereby a fixed sum was divided amongst taxpayers, as the dixième d’industrie, vingtième d’industrie, etc.), and then the “patente” tax after the French Revolution. None of these levies was collected on real profits. Rather, they were based on an indirect appreciation of the merchant fortunes, which implied a territorialized and hierarchical conception of economic dynamics. This communication therefore aims to study the behaviours of the commercial and industrial actors in front of the distribution of these taxes. In particular, we wonder about the agents’ strategies towards organizing their business in space and adapting to institutional changes
Territoriality and Early Modern European Fiscal States: the Challenge of Equality and Equity
Composite states were common in early modern Europe. If the benefits of agglomeration seem fairly obvious – more manpower and resources, along with wider markets and administrative scale economies – extending fiscal systems into expanded territories poses significant problems about the extent to which all people should be treated alike – equality – or whether geographically varied circumstances should be catered to in pursuit of equity. Fiscal systems unavoidably have to consider questions of space. Significant fiscal fragmentation was a feature of many states before the late eighteenth century, but not in England. Yet expanding English practices in the unions to Scotland in 1707 and Ireland in 1801 was far from straightforward or successful. This paper compares those unions as ways of better understanding key territorial imperatives in fiscal systems at the time.
Space, Place and Function in British Savings Banks (1834)
The recent discovery of economic and financial ‘space’ and ‘place’ has focussed on this upon a macro-scale, tracking the arrangement and distribution of branches and other geographical factors. This paper will look at the topic on a micro- or even nano-scale, looking at the organisation of financial space within individual banks. There is a large literature in the humanities and social sciences on the architecture and arrangement of banks, and a growing scholarship which uses this to examine how banks have historically sought to project security and stability, or transparency and accessibility, through architecture and organisation of space. Anne Murphy, in particular, has taken this one step further and noted how the Bank of England tried to organise its space in order to facilitate and streamline its operations, and other literature has commented on the arrangement of ‘walks’ at the Royal Exchange, where functionality and space were combined by grouping brokers in particular areas. This paper will use a pamphlet produced in 1834 by the London Provident Institution or Bank for Savings, intended as a guide for other savings banks, which included an idealised plan of how the savings bank should arrange its internal space ‘to secure facility in the execution of the duties required, and to combine this facility with the most cautious provisions against either fraud or mistake’. It will show how the plan brought together space, place, time and function in an effort to combine successfully the economic and social purposes of the savings bank, ‘to prevent confusion and embarrassment in conducting the affairs of the office’, and draw wider conclusions about the benefits of sensitising analysis to the use of space.