This introduction to the dossier “Wine, Economy, and Empire” surveys the place
of economic history in the field of French Empire studies over the last twenty
years. Drawing upon the concept of “economic life” as defined by William Sewell,
the authors argue that a renewed focus on economic activity within the French
Empire offers new opportunities to interrogate commonplace ideas about
chronology, imperial forms, and structures of power. The article briefly examines
some of the specific avenues of inquiry opened by a conception of economic life
as socially “embedded,” while highlighting recent works that exemplify the possibilities
of this approach for scholars of empire.
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