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CFP: Immigrant Entrepreneurship in Transnational Comparative Perspective, 18th Century - Today, Washington, DC June 2016
09 Feb 2016 by Robert Oppedisano

Immigrant Entrepreneurship in Transnational Comparative Perspective, 18th Century - Today / June 16-17, 2016 / Workshop at the German Historical Institute (GHI) / Conveners: Hartmut Berghoff, Jessica Csoma, Bryan Hart, Kelly McCullough, Atiba Pertilla, Benjamin Schwantes, Uwe Spiekermann

The importance of immigration in the nation’s economic development—both as a source of low-cost labor and highly-skilled human capital—has long been acknowledged. Similarly, the American economic system’s openness to entrepreneurial activity is generally recognized as one of its defining characteristics and a central factor in its continued vitality. How did those who came as, or became entrepreneurs in the United States, integrate themselves and their businesses into the American marketplace? Did their journey give them a certain entrepreneurial advantage? What role have ethnic diasporas and networks played in the transfer of skills and knowledge?

This workshop  at the German Historical Institute (GHI) seeks to examine these key questions and to link research on immigrants from diverse backgrounds to the results of the German Historical Institute’s multi-year project, Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present ( The workshop is conducted on the occasion of the completion of the project and seeks to contextualize its main findings.

Bringing together scholars from a variety of fields, the workshop aims to explore patterns and transformations in the interplay between immigration and economic innovation; to investigate how ethnicity, gender, space and time intersect in the economic sphere; and to look at similarities and differences in experiences within and between various immigrant groups. We hope to stimulate discussion on these important topics and provide a forum for comparison by looking at African, Asian, European, and Latino diasporas in the United States.

We especially invite early-career scholars pursuing their PhD, but also recent post-docs and senior scholars from the fields of history (including business history and the history of knowledge), entrepreneurship, political science, and sociology to make a contribution. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • the relationship between immigration and entrepreneurship in the United States;
  • the role of immigration in the United States’ economic development;
  • the transfer of skills and knowledge across borders and cultures;
  • geographies of ethnic entrepreneurship;
  • comparative studies across time and ethnic groups;

It would be a great plus but not a prerequisite if the speakers could try to link their topics to the results of the GHI’s Immigrant Entrepreneurship project by comparing their cases with the German-American experience and pointing out differences and similarities as well as patterns and recurring challenges.

The workshop at the GHI will bring together junior and senior scholars. The discussions will be based on pre-circulated papers submitted four weeks in advance. Travel and accommodation expenses will be covered by the German Historical Institute.

Please send a short abstract of no more than 400 words and a brief CV in one file by February 15, 2016 to Jessica Csoma (