Reconfiguring the Global

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of History

Module overview

What is capitalism? Was it essentially a European phenomenon, emerging in the English countryside and spreading to the rest of the world? Or was it “global” from the outset? Does industrial production and wage labour lie at its core, or are there other forms of labour and extraction that need to be taken into account? This module deals with many of these questions. It poses the challenge of thinking about capitalism beyond conventional Euro-centric models and analytical categories. How do we conceptualise capitalism differently when we foreground the ways it is integrally tied to colonialism, race, debt, and slavery? What happens when we develop our concepts “bottom-up,” drawing on the histories of the Global South? 

The MA Seminar ‘Reconfiguring the Global’ takes on a different theme every year. In Autumn 2022 the theme will be Histories of Capitalism and Race in the Middle East and Indian Ocean. It will take us through recent and seminal texts in Middle East and Indian Ocean Studies, which deal with questions of capitalism and race. It will run alongside a public seminar series, with the same name, where the author of the text we will be reading will be present and where students will participate. 

Sample reading list

  • Nada Moumtaz, God’s Property: Islam, Charity and the Modern State (2021)
  • Alden Young, Transforming Sudan: Decolonization, Economic Development and State Formation (2017)
  • Muriam Haleh Davis, Markets of Civilization: Islam and Racial Capitalism in Algeria (2022) 
  • Aaron Jakes, Egypt’s Occupation: Colonial Economism and the Crises of Capitalism (2020)
  • Nurfadzilah Yahaya, Fluid Jurisdictions: Colonial Law and Arabs in Southeast Asia (2020)
  • Johan Mathew, Margins of the Market: Trafficking and Capitalism across the Arabian Sea (2016)
  • Katayoun Shafiee, Machineries of Oil: An Infrastructural History of BP in Iran (2018)
  • Andrew Liu, Tea War: A History of Capitalism in China and India (2020)
  • Timothy Mitchell, Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-politics, Modernity (2002)

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • understand in a new way the historical dimensions of some of the issues that lie at the heart of the SOAS mission to work towards greater equality, justice and freedom in our world;
  • formulate questions and comments based on scholarly talks and accompanying materials and engage in academic debates in an informed and confident way;
  • develop their own research projects, drawing on the knowledge and resources introduced and contacts made in the seminar.


  • 2 hours of teaching per week over 10 weeks.

Method of assessment

  • Portfolio of 5000 words (100%)


Hengameh Ziai


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules