Richard Robinson Business History Workshop: The Cultural History of Money and Credit
Author: History Department
Posted: May 22, 2014

Richard Robinson Business History Workshop:
The Cultural History of Money and Credit

May 22-24, 2014

Thursday, May 22, at 6 p.m. in Smith Student Union Center, Room 238
Friday, May 23, from 10:15 a.m. in Smith Student Union Center, Room 333
Saturday, May 24, from 8:45 a.m. in Smith Student Union Center, Room 236

[“Credit is dead. Bad debtors killed him.”]

Sponsored by the Portland State University Department of History and the Friends of History, this three-day event is free and open to the public.

The Richard Robinson Business History Workshop offers a global perspective on the study of money and credit. The workshop aims to illuminate the divergences and comparability of monetary practices across a variety of geographical and temporal contexts, as well as to highlight the interconnections between these contexts. This workshop event opens with a keynote address by Professor Mark Metzler (on May 22), followed by six panel discussions (on May 23 and 24) that deal with such topics as: monetary practices at the local and micro level; cross-regional and transnational flows of money; credit and financial integration at the global scale; the making of a commodity; and conceptions of risk and credit. The regions the workshop papers cover include the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, South India, Southern Africa, and Southeast and East Asia.

Co-organized by Thomas Luckett and Chia Yin Hsu of Portland State University, and Erika Vause of Saint Xavier University.

View the full program for a list of all panel discussions and papers presented. 

Those interested in attending the panels are welcome to read the papers beforehand. For access to the papers, please send email to:,history.workshop @

Keynote Address

Recurring Debt Crises and the Contours of Global History

by Mark Metzler, Professor of History, University of Texas at Austin
Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 6 p.m. in Smith Student Union Center, Room 238
Free and open to the public

[Illustration: Nihonbashi, the commercial center of old Edo]

Systemic debt crises are among the most significant events of modern history. The greatest of them—for example, the crisis of 1873 or the crisis of 1929—have historical importance comparable to that of great wars. What’s more, we now live in an age that is shaped by bubbles and debt crises, though we have a hard time seeing the events of our own time in their long-run historical context.

In an effort to grasp that context, this talk scans back over the past three centuries. First, Professor Metzler considers some archetypal eighteenth-century bubbles and busts, which signified the beginnings of modern financial history in both Europe and Japan. One side of this story—the story of Japan’s first economic bubble—has been unknown, and in light of recent events, it takes on a new meaning. During the nineteenth-century, the forces of globalization led to globalized cycles of credit-boom and debt-destruction, which became bigger and more coherent. This was the age of the classic business cycle, when great booms were followed by great depressions. The greatest of these was the Great Depression of 1873. But the great debt-deflation crisis of the 1930s seemed to be the last of the classic debt-deflation crises. Or was it? Credit inflation marched on through the twentieth century, deflation became a forgotten word, and economies seemed to function in a new way. But then in the 1990s, in the wake of Japan’s great financial bubble, deflation returned to the historical stage. Now, Japan looks like a forerunner of the current age of economic bubbles.

Panel Discussions

Friday, May 23

all events in Smith Student Union Center, Room 333

10:15 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Panel 1: Microfinancing and Microcredit
Chair: Thomas Luckett


  • Consumer Credit and Economic Justice: The Expansion of Financial Rights in the 1960s U.S.
    by Enrico Beltramini, Notre Dame de Namur University
  • A History of U. S. Progressive-Era Microfinance from a Global Perspective
    by David Paul Hochfelder, State University of New York at Albany
  • The Persistence of Informal Moneylending in Twentieth-Century Mexico
    by Nicole Mottier, Stetson University

12 - 1:15 p.m.
Lunch (by invitation only)
Presentation: The Oral History of Sustainable Business Practice in the Pacific Northwest
Joshua Binus, Portland State University

1:15 - 3 p.m.
Panel 2: Networks of Borrowing and Indebtedness
Chair: Erika Vause


  • Credit and Discredit in a Non-Capitalist Economy: Colonial Rio de Janeiro
    by Mônica Martins, Federal University-Rio de Janeiro
  • A Dangerous Game? Pearl Merchants Between Promise and Peril in Early Nineteenth-Century South India
    by Samuel Ostroff, University of Pennsylvania
  • Moscow Debtors’ Pit and Private Action under Autocracy
    by Sergei Antonov, Queens College, City University of New York

3:30 - 5:15 p.m.
Panel 3: Commodification and Collateralization
Chair: Thomas Luckett


  • “What Makes a Commodity?” An Eighteenth-Century New England Farmer Decides
    by Daniel Vickers, University of British Columbia
  • “Land that Circulates from Hand to Hand”: Mortgages and Paper Money in Nineteenth-Century France
    by Alexia Yates, Harvard University
  • The Work of the Pawn: Framing Persons and Objects in Debt Relationships, Switzerland 1880s
    by Michael Suter, University of Basel

Saturday, May 24

all events in Smith Student Union Center, Room 236

8:45 - 10 a.m.
PSU Student Panel
Chair: Thomas Luckett


  • Non-Ideological Spaces in the Iranian Revolution: The Case of the Tehran Bazaari
    by Monica Rabii, Senior
  • Money and Credit in Russian Serf Memoirs, Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century
    by Preetham Sridharan, First-Year History MA Program

10:15 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Panel 4: Models of Banking, Credit, and Risk
Chair: Erika Vause


  • The Performance of Public Credit during the Late Eighteenth Century, England
    by Anne L. Murphy, University of Hertfordshire
  • The Origins of Modern Insurance: The Construction of a Life-Centered Insurance Regime in England, 1664-1774
    by Mathieu Charbonneau, Carleton University
  • Credit and Debt in the Great Depression of the Late Nineteenth Century
    by Mark Metzler, University of Texas at Austin

1:15 - 3 p.m.
Panel 5: Colonial Banking
Chair: Chia Yin Hsu


  • Money and Autonomy in a Settler Colony: The Politics of Monetary Regulation in Colonial Zimbabwe, c.1938 - c.1965
    by Admire Mseba, University of Iowa 
  • The Pre-Making of Lebanon’s Central Bank: The Long Monetary Mandate, 1920-1964
    by Hicham Safieddine, University of Toronto

3:30 - 5:15 p.m.
Panel 6: Global Money, Economic Panic, Cultural Crisis
Chair: Chia Yin Hsu


  • Shattered Speculations: The Interwar Bailout of Empire in the American Colonial Philippines
    by Allan Lumba, Harvard University
  • Dubious Figures, Scandals, and the Credibility of the Exchange, 1910s-1920s Shanghai
    by Bryna Goodman, University of Oregon
  • Culture and Economics: A 1930s Critique, China
    by Rebecca Karl, New York University