Political Economy in Empire / Empire in Political Economy New Insights from Intellectual and Imperial History


  • Patrick Van der Geest Leiden University




review essay, imperial history, eighteenth century


For the longest of times, commerce and empire have been held to reside in perfect isolation from one another. Conceptually, peaceful commerce starkly opposed the discord of empires. In that same vein, political economy – the tool of commerce – was often considered the natural counterpart of warfare – the tool of empire. In many regards political economy was – and still is – considered an appealing alternative to empire, if not the antidote for the evils of imperialism. Despite this conceptual antagonism, the acquisition of empire by European maritime states was in most regards strongly intertwined with generating profits – often at the expense of human life and well-being. Empire-building and profit-generating were, as a result, seldom discussed in isolation.


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Author Biography

Patrick Van der Geest, Leiden University

Patrick van der Geest (1995) is a research master student (ResMA) in Colonial and Global History at Leiden University. He is writing his thesis on the development of the Amsterdam firm Hope & Co.’s colonial and overseas trade and finance between ca. 1726 and 1770, in connection to their political and colonial-administrative networks in the Dutch Republic during that period. Subsequently, he intends to use the result of this research to demonstrate how prominent eighteenth-century businessmen of foreign origin intervened in the political decision making process of the Dutch Republic, often to the benefit of the family firm.




How to Cite

Van der Geest, P. (2019). Political Economy in Empire / Empire in Political Economy New Insights from Intellectual and Imperial History. TSEG - The Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History, 15(4), 99–116. https://doi.org/10.18352/tseg.1040



Review Article