Naval shipyards: Laboratories of capitalism

01 April 2019 - 14:01

Naval Shipyards in the Atlantic World as Centers of Innovation in Production, Administration and Labor Control (1720-1870)

  • Project lead: Pepijn Brandon
  • Project start: 2016
  • Grant: € 250,000 (€ 125,000 IISH) by NWO [VENI]
  • Partners: Free University Amsterdam

In 2016 Pepijn Brandon (IISH and Vrije Universiteit) has been awarded a Veni-grant (NWO) for his project Naval shipyards: Laboratories of capitalismHis research focuses on the impact of war industry, state intervention and forced labour on industrial development.

In his project, Brandon makes a comparison between the naval shipyards of Amsterdam, Plymouth (UK), Havana (Spanish Cuba) and Norfolk (Virginia). During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, each of these shipyards in its own way played a prominent role in the introduction of industrial methods of production.

These large state-enterprises often were technological front-runners. In many cases they employed not only wage laborers but also forced laborers and slaves. This shines new light on the history of industrial capitalism.

De Werf van de Zeeuwse Admirailteit (1776) - source: Rijksmuseum
De Werf van de Zeeuwse Admirailteit (1776) - source: Rijksmuseum