When and how did economic growth become such a central concern of democratic political life? How might climate change challenge this conception of politics? Join us for an evening talk with Timothy Mitchell (Columbia University) at King’s College London, co-hosted by the Institute for Policy Research (University of Bath) along with the Department of Digital Humanities and the Department of History (King’s College London).

No Business of Yours: How the Large Corporation Swallowed the Future – Timothy Mitchell (Columbia University)

The foundation of good government, political parties often claim, is to manage and improve the economy. That conception of politics is both surprisingly recent, and one that may not have long to live. Before the mid-twentieth century, no one defined democratic politics in terms of the growth of an object called “the economy.” By the middle of the present century we may have little democracy left, given the threat of climate collapse, if we do not find a better way to define the purpose of political life. To format a different politics we must understand how politics first created “the economy” as its object. The answer lies in the rise of the large corporation, and the strange new relationship to the future that the modern business firm engineered.

Bio: Timothy Mitchell writes about colonialism, political economy, the politics of energy, and the making of expert knowledge. Trained in the fields of law, history, and political theory, he works across the disciplinary boundaries of history and the social sciences. His most recent book is Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil. He is currently working on a study of durability, examining how the more durable apparatuses for capturing wealth characteristic of late nineteenth-century colonialism (railways, canals, apartment buildings, dams) engineered a new method of extracting income from the future—a future we now inhabit precariously today. Like much of his work, this research combines the study of the built world, technical devices, ecological processes, and the history of economic and political concepts. Professor Mitchell teaches at Columbia University in New York.



Date and time

Thu 17 January, 2019
18:00 – 20:00 GMT


Bush House Auditorium
Bush House, North Wing, King’s College London
30 Aldwych


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