The Transnational History of French Industrialisation Before 1914

The Transnational History of French Industrialisation Before 1914

German Historical Institute Paris; LabEx "Writing a New History of Europe"; Center for Economic and Social History; François Simiand
German Historical Institute Paris / Deutsches Historisches Institut Paris
Vom - Bis
06.11.2019 - 08.11.2019
Dr. Yaman Kouli

The aim of this conference will be to analyse the characteristics of 19th-century French industrialisation and to understand how they distinguish France from other countries that went through the same process in the same era. Instead of using the English case as the only reference (as is customary), particular attention will be paid to a comparison between France and other continental European countries, especially Germany. An important dimension of national industrialisation trajectories is their place in an international and transnational context; in the case of France, colonial empire played an undeniable role. Economic and non-economic competition with other major industrial nations, particularly England and Germany, was another driving force behind French industrialisation. This could be highlighted by examining the behaviour of large French companies, analysing how they buttressed the internal national market, and studying to what extent they contributed to the creation of a European, and even global, market. Further analysis might include an examination of consumer behaviour, including purchasing power and changes in taste.

The conference will revolve around four thematic areas:

The division of labour in Europe: This first field concerns the sectoral morphology of companies participating in industrialisation. The role of big industry is not the same in textiles, steel or railways. Moreover, not all industrialisation sectors carry the same influence from one national system to another. These dimensions of industrialisation raise the question of national trajectories, the national specialisations they can produce, and the forms of expression and complementarity they imply at the international level.

European and transnational cooperation: The second thematic field will focus on how this process of industrialisation is organised, from self-organisation in industrial sectors to organisation through the implementation of industrial and state trade policies. Both of these approaches must be considered in national and international terms (which raises the additional question of how European and international cooperation works). The role of trade unionism and professional organisations could also be studied in this context. Comparative studies that examine the level of interconnection and integration among national and international markets would also be welcome.

Financing industrialisation: The third thematic area will involve the conditions and modalities of financing industrialisation. The industrialisation process requires an unprecedented capacity to mobilise savings and financial resources, all the more so as it goes hand in hand with significant financing needs on the part of nation-states, from the military perspective with the industrialisation of war to the social aspect with the rise of welfare states. Here again, national trajectories differ from one another and cross paths, especially in the development of international financial institutions, financial companies and stock exchanges.

The impact of the knowledge-based economy: This fourth thematic area concerns the knowledge-based economy, including both practical knowledge formed at the “workshop” level as well as research-based knowledge developed mainly within public institutions. Each of these methods features different working procedures and approaches to international cooperation (one example being the issue of patents). Studies on human capital (e.g. qualification of workers, social protection) are also included in this focus area.

We encourage proposals from researchers studying France’s “second” industrialisation with a comparative or transnational approach, including cross-border and trans-regional perspectives. The conference will also seek to stimulate a dialogue between representatives of different research schools in economic history: quantitative and qualitative economic history, social history, corporate history, and micro, meso, and macro perspectives. Proposals beyond the four thematic areas defined above and the list of themes below will also be welcome, provided they are related to the general topic of the conference.

Proposals for submission themes (examples):

- The specificities of French industry and industrialisation
- The role of the state in industrialisation
- The second economic revolution (e.g. research and development, patents)
- European, international and transnational exchanges and cooperation
- Environmental issues (accessibility of resources, environmental protection)
- Social changes (role of women, social policy)
- Learning, the labour market and the construction of the welfare state
- Resistance to industrialisation
- Integration of international and colonial markets
- World trade (including colonies, South America and Japan)
- Changing consumer behaviour and consumption patterns
- Cross-border, transregional and transnational perspectives
- Comparative studies, provided that they address the processes of national and international integration described above
- Studies on branches of industry (including heavy industry) or on different sectors (e.g. product chains, commodity flows)
- Trade policies
- The legal construction of the large industrial company

The conference will take place on November 6th - 8th, 2019 at the German Historical Institute in Paris. It is organised by the German Historical Institute with support from LabEx “Writing a New History of Europe” and the Center for Economic and Social History François Simiand (Paris School of Economics). Please send your submissions (maximum one page) in French, German or English to Dr. Yaman Kouli ( by March 31st, 2019. Selected contributors will be informed by the end of April 2019. Travel and accommodation costs will be covered by the organisation, subject to financing.



Yaman Kouli
Hôtel Duret-de-Chevry
8 rue du Parc-Royal
F-75003 Paris
(+ 33) (1 44) 54 86 21-3 05