Dr Edmond Smith

Presidential Fellow (Academic)

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Overview

I joined Manchester in 2018 as a Presidential Fellow in Economic Cultures. I am interested in global history and have conducted research in Africa, America, Asia and Europe, working on topics ranging from the ways that we imagine continents to the development of international law. To undertake this research I am part of Manchester's Centre for Economic Cultures and Co-Chair of the Northern Cluster for Global and Transcultural Studies.

My current research seeks to uncover the origins of our globalised world. Instead of focusing on states, or empires, or corporations, I peek under the hood of these seemingly monolithic, homogenous entities to find the individuals who were at the beating heart of this process. Whether these are the rock-salt entrepreneurs of Ghana, Gujarati brokers haggling over silk in Surat, or English merchants planning to colonise the Arctic with Lapp settlers, each has their own stories to tell – and all contributed to the creation of the global, connected world we know today. Focusing on people – their everyday activities and values and their experiences of contact with the outside world – helps us to understand the cultural conditions of global capitalism in a much more nuanced way. Rather than finding a euro-centric, rigid model that was imposed on the world from boardrooms in Amsterdam and London, we instead discover that the origins of global capitalism are de-centred, open to the roles played by men and women from all walks of life across the world. We see economics not only as trade-flows and stock markets but also the day-to-day activities of individuals, families and communities.

In addition to my academic work, I have also undertaken research in the contemporary finance sector, working with some of the worlds most venerable institutions and most exciting start-ups. I maintain strong relationships with finance and policy sectors and my current projects in this area include exploring possible applications of blockchain technology and working with Insurance Times on a series of articles about cultures of innovation.

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