Research School for Economic and Social History


7 - 8 June 2023
Leiden University, Johan Huizinga Building, Conference Room (2.60), Doelensteeg 16, Leiden

Workshop ‘Risk and Entrepreneurship – Old Discussions, Innovative Questions, New Insights’

Gijs Dreijer, Lewis Wade, Mallory Hope, Cátia Antunes and Maria Fusaro kindly invite participants to join the workshop ‘Risk and Entrepreneurship – Old Discussions, Innovative Questions, New Insights’, to be held at Leiden University on 7 and 8 June 2023. The keynote lecture will be delivered by  Professor Anthony Hopkins, Emeritus Smuts Professor of Commonwealth History at Cambridge and an Emeritus Fellow of Pembroke College.

This workshop has been made possible by contributions from Leiden University fund CWB (grant nr. W221373-3-1), University of Exeter European Network Fund 2022-2023 (grant nr. 6.4), the Roots and Routes Network of the Posthumus Institute, and the NWO VICI project Exploiting the Empire of Others (grant nr. VI.C.191.027).


Entrepreneurs are often seen as either engines of economic growth or villains exploiting workers to make excessive profits. Yet historically, the role of entrepreneurs in adding value to society has been multifaceted, thus defying this dichotomy. This workshop brings together experts from the University of Exeter and Leiden University, as well as specialists from across the world, to analyse the historical role of the entrepreneur in a comparative and global-historical perspective, particularly in relationship to the management of risk and uncertainty. It compares the historical role of entrepreneurship in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, moving away from a focus on Western firms and instead focusing on individual entrepreneurs, large and small, who through innovative strategies contributed to solving societal challenges.

Confirmed speakers

You can download the full (preliminary) programme here. Next to the keynote lecture by Professor Hopkins, the following lectures have been confirmed:

  • Dr Gijs Dreijer, Leiden University – Exploiting the Empire of Others: Dutch Entrepreneurs in the Scramble for Africa (1850s-1910s)
  • Dr Sarina Kuersteiner, Union College – From Divine Provision to Risk Commodity: Concepts of Future Profit in Geniza papers and Latin contracts, ca. 1000-155
  • Dr Rémi Dewière, Northumbria University – Failures and Successes of Canon Technology Transfer in the 18th-century Mediterranean World: Two French Entrepreneurs in North Africa (1771-1775)
  • Professor Lakshmi Subramanian, Centre for Social Studies Calcutta – Speculation or Risk Management? Changing Debates around “aunth” in Western India 1750-1920
  • Dr Lewis Wade, Institute of Historical Research – Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained? Entrepreneurial Uncertainty in the Languedocian Cloth Industry, 1683–1700
  • Dr Noelle Richardson, Leiden University – Entrepreneurship and imperial transitions: Dutch merchants in the intra-Asian trade (1740s-1808)
  • Dr Sascha Klocke, Lund University – Rural Capitalists or Entrepreneurs? African Commercial Agriculture and Economic Development under Colonial Rule
  • Dr Edmond Smith, The University of Manchester – Working Between World Systems: The Experience of Globalisation for Akan Entrepreneurs from Eguafo to Bitu
  • Professor Maria Fusaro, University of  Exeter – Title TBC
  • Dr Audrey Gerrard, Norwegian University of Science and Technology – Between Private Affair and Government Control: The Queensland Plantation Labour Debate 1880-1890
  • Matthias Lukkes MA, Leiden University – Managing Risk for whom? Bomba Labour in the Dutch Transatlantic Slave Trade
  • Dr Mallory Hope, Harvard University – “To Conserve in their Integrity… The Assets and Rights of their Church”: Managing Water and Shared Resources on the Chapter of the Notre Dame’s Rural Domaine
  • {Professor Amy Froide, University of Maryland, Baltimore Country – Women, Risk, and Joint-stock Enterprise in Early Eighteenth-century London
  • Dr John Kegel, Leiden University – Risk, Entrepreneurship and Concessionary Companies
  • Professor William Deringer, MIT – Hazardous Nature: Coal Mining Engineers, Discounting Calculations, and the Price of Risk circa 1800

How to participate

Those interested to participate can e-mail Dr Gijs Dreijer