Histories of ecomics tend to portray attitudes towards commerce in the era of Adam Smith as celebrating what is termed doux commerce, that is, sweet or gentle commerce. Commerce and Its Discontents in Eighteenth-Century French Political Thought proposes that reliance on this doux commerce thesis has obscured our comprehension of the theory and experience of commerce in Enlightenment Europe. Instead, it uncovers ambivalence towards commerce in eighteenth-century France, distinguished by an awareness of its limits - slavery, piracy and mopoly. Through a careful analysis of the Histoire des deux Indes (1780), the Enlightenment's best-selling history of comparative empires, Aush Fraser Terjanian offers a new perspective on the connections between political ecomy, imperialism and the Enlightenment. In discussing how a 'politics of definition' governed the early debates about global commerce and its impact, this book enriches our understanding of the prehistory of globalisation.
Anoush Fraser Terjanian is Assistant Professor of History at East Carolina University.