This talk looks at a small handheld globe manufactured by the British cartographer Herman Moll in 1719. Though small in size and overtly commercial in use, the object serves as a particularly useful case study for understanding the relationship between cartography, consumerism, and certain geopolitical developments that historians have seen as president of global modernity, namely speculative capitalism—including its troubling connections to colonialism and slavery. Additionally, the talk sketches the parameters of a new line of architectural research on the history of European-supported entrepôts in Asia, Africa, and the Americas as they relate to early modern shipping networks and the formalization of the modern stock exchange in Amsterdam and London.
Jason Nguyen is an architectural historian working at the junction of architecture, science and technology, and political economy in the early modern world. He is completing the manuscript for his first book, Theory & Expertise: The Art of Building in Old Regime France. The project charts how architects in 17th- and early 18th-century France theorized technical practice according to the methods of mechanical philosophy in an effort to claim expertise in the arts of construction.