Elizabeth Cross will be joining Florida State University's department of history as an assistant professor in fall of 2017. Elizabeth is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department at Harvard University in the field of modern European history, with an emphasis on the history of political economy and capitalism in eighteenth-century France and its empire. She received her B.A. in history from the University of Chicago in 2009.
For the academic year 2016-2017, she will hold a Dissertation Completion Fellowship at the Minda de Gunzberg Center for European Studies at Harvard University.
Her current project, The French East India Company and the Politics of Commerce in the Revolutionary Era, traces the history of the last French East India Company during the late Old Regime and the French Revolution. Based on research in over twenty archives and libraries in France, Britain, and the United States, this project argues that the circumstances surrounding the Company’s incorporation and dissolution further our understanding of the roles played by globalization and economic institutions in revolutionary political transformations. The Company was created by the French monarchy as a method of asserting economic and diplomatic credit both in Europe and in Asia, and it played a contentious role in imperial politics, European diplomacy, and the politics of public debt in the financially precarious last years of the Old Regime. It was also a site of economic and political experimentation by French government officials, intellectuals, and private financial actors who, in seeking to control the Company for their own purposes, clashed over differing visions of both the French Empire and the role of the state in the economy. As such, when the Company was institutionally discredited by financial scandals and domestic and foreign failures, mercantile hostility to its privileged status drew on emerging, liberal ideas that called for the limitation of state intervention in the economy, the abolition of monopolies, and imperial restructuring. These demands fueled economic reforms in the early years of the French Revolution, eventually leading to the suppression of the Company during the Revolutionary Terror. The project thus explores how, in an age of revolutionary upheaval, the vicissitudes of the early, global economy destabilized political institutions on the national level. A fragment of this project recently appeared as "L'Anatomie d'un Scandale: l'Affaire de la Compagnie des Indes révisitée (1793-1794)" in Vertu et politique: les pratiques des législateurs, eds. Michel Biard, Philippe Bourdin and Hervé Leuwers (Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2015).
Her research has been supported by Mellon Foundation fellowships from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), in addition to the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (Newberry Library fellowship), the Minda de Gunzberg Center for European Studies, and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University.