Archipelago Capitalism: Tax Havens, Offshore Money, and the Shadow Economy, 1920s-1980s


ACLS Fellowship Program




The mid-twentieth century can be viewed easily as a period in which the nation state attained its greatest importance yet, in Europe and beyond. The welfare state, decolonization, Keynesianism, economic planning, and development politics in the third world were all forms of state building and nation making. This project seeks to counter this state-based narrative by highlighting the simultaneous emergence of a peripheral and extraterritorial order. Tax havens and offshore financial centers, free trade or Special Economic Zones, flags of convenience shipping registries, and offshore money markets formed islands of free-market capitalism that would become foundational for today’s global economy as it emerged from the 1970s and 1980s. The project focuses on British, German, French, American, and Swiss government involvements with archipelago capitalism, as well as the roles of private actors and international organizations, ranging from Europe to the Caribbean, Latin America, and Asia.