Green Capitalism? Business & Environmental History—Wilmington, DE

The Center for the History of Business, Technology and Society (Hagley Museum and Library) and the German Historical Institute (Washington, DC) present Green Capitalism? Exploring the Crossroads of Environmental and Business History Oct. 30-31, 2014, at the Hagley Museum and Library. The deadline for proposals is May 1, 2014.

This conference hopes to point to fresh opportunities for joining the insights of environmental and business history. We are especially interested in providing historical perspectives on a question of obvious relevance today: Can capitalism be green – or at least greener? Our title – “Green Capitalism?” – is admittedly drawn from contemporary discourse. But we are convinced that history can provide invaluable insights into the complex and changing relationship between business and the environment.

We invite papers that consider in specific historical contexts the extent to which the business enterprises that are central to capitalism operated in an environmentally sound or detrimental manner by the way they dealt with their refuse, by managing their use of resources, and mitigating or ignoring any harmful impact on those who handled their products or are affected by their waste. Though business activities have had many deleterious environmental consequences, businesses sometimes have acted to protect the environment, reduce their direct and indirect environmental impact, and promote environmental reform in society. That is true now, but it also was sometimes the case long before the rise of modern environmentalism.