ARTICLE: “Capitalist Contexts for Darwinian Theory: Land, Finance, Industry and Empire”

A new article on Darwin (and Wallace) in the Journal of the History of Biology (online first):

M.J.S. Hodge, “Capitalist Contexts for Darwinian Theory: Land, Finance, Industry and Empire” Journal of the History of Biology (2009)

Jon Hodge, a historian of science, has recently co-edited The Cambridge Companion to Darwin (2nd. ed., 2009) with Gregory Radick, and authored Before and After Darwin (2008), and Darwin Studies (2009). Here is the abstract of the article:

When socio-economic contexts are sought for Darwin’s science, it is customary to turn to the Industrial Revolution. However, important issues about the long run of England’s capitalisms can only be recognised by taking a wider view than Industrial Revolution historiographies tend to engage. The role of land and finance capitalisms in the development of the empire is one such issue. If we historians of Darwin’s science allow ourselves a distinction between land and finance capitalisms on the one hand and industrial capitalism on the other; and if we ask with which side of this divide were Darwin and his theory of branching descent by natural selection aligned, then reflection on leading features of that theory, including its Malthusian elements, suggests that the answer is often and largely, though not exclusively: on the land side. The case of Wallace, socialist opponent of land capitalism, may not be as anomalous for this suggestion as one might at first think. Social and economic historians have reached no settled consensuses on the long-run of England’s capitalisms. We historians of Darwin’s science would do well to import some of these unsettled states of discussion into our own work over the years to come.

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