This lecture offers a new account of Irish thinking about the relationship between sovereignty and commerce during the global 'age of revolutions' (1770s-1840s). Considering key thinkers and politicians associated with the Volunteers, the United Irishmen, and Young Ireland, the lecture will explore how successive Irish national movements thought about Ireland's place in Europe, the British Empire, and the world at large. Irish thinkers, it argues, were participants in a European debate about whether or not the apparent benefits of long-distance trade could be separated from the dangers of violence, luxury, and corruption--in short, the excesses of the 'mercantile system' condemned by the Scottish philosopher Adam Smith.
James Stafford is an Assistant Professor in the History Department at Columbia University, specializing in the political and intellectual history of Ireland, Britain, and Europe since 1750. His book The Case of Ireland: Commerce, Empire and the European Order, 1750-1848 was published by Cambridge University Press this year. He also writes on contemporary British and European politics for outlets including Dissent, Political Quarterly, The Nation, The Guardian, and OpenDemocracy, and is a contributing editor at Renewal: A Journal of Social Democracy (Lawrence & Wishart, UK).
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