This panel aims to reassess, in a comparative perspective, how different States, Charted Companies and entrepreneurial firms, collected and broadcasted information on markets and circuits in order ground their overseas endeavours between 1500 and 1750.
During the early modern period, knowledge on different markets and exchange of information across long distances was a key element behind the development of transcontinental chains of commodities, capital and individuals. These factors were, arguably, just as important as availability of capital, insurance-mechanisms, shipping and logistic solutions, or trust. To what extent, were the outcomes of overseas enterprises tied to the different ways institutional apparatus and self-organized networks handled information-asymmetries? How did institutional and cultural contexts affect the organization and diffusion of insight across regions and continents? Did bureaucratic apparatus possess more efficient communication chains, or were firms more successful in this regard? Last, but not least, how did formal institutions and self-organized networks interact with each other, through the sharing, conceal or manipulation of information, to better achieve their objectives? This panel's major aim is, thus, to reassess how States, Charted Companies and entrepreneurial partnerships, gathered, broadcasted and made use of information to ground their overseas endeavours, during the first age of European global expansion and imperialism (1500-1750). We welcome papers touching upon different chronological and geographical contexts, so that a comparative perspective showcasing the similar and distinctive knowledge traits of western European empires and transnational networks can be achieved.