Dr Alexia Yates

Senior Lecturer in Modern History

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Research interests

Modern European history; the cultural and social history of France; urban history; history of economic life.

My first book, Selling Paris: Property and Commercial Culture in the Fin-de-siècle Capital, chronicles the politics, people, and practices that turned city-making into a business in late-nineteenth-century Paris. It foregrounds transformations in property development that led to a period of tremendous urban growth as well as underwrote a quintessentially modern metropolitan culture. My research on real estate continues in a volume on real estate and global urban history, currently in preparation for Cambridge University Press.

My current research explores the social history and microfoundations of financial modernity in nineteenth-century France. I study how the stock market came to be understood as a quotidian element of French citizens’ economic lives in the nineteenth century and how this understanding changed throughout the twentieth. Mass investment is not a natural or straightforward phenomenon; it is a political and cultural as much as economic project. Financial markets were made not in the realm of economic theory, nor by the natural imperatives of capital, but by the investment manuals, commercial information circulars, traveling stock and bond salesman, and the material form of stock certificates and exchange districts, all of which contributed to establishing a consumer marketplace for financial instruments. This project aims to create a history of finance from below, exploring how popular engagement with the financial sector redefined the relationship between citizens, the market, and the state, as well as provided a means for ordinary individuals to reconceptualize their roles as actors in a global political-economic system.


Research and projects