New faculty member Vanessa Ogle wins Max Planck-Humboldt Medal

Vanessa Ogle
Vanessa Ogle (Photo by Dan Renzetti)

Vanessa Ogle, who joined Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences this term as an associate professor of history, is one of two historians recently awarded a prestigious Max Planck-Humboldt Medal.

Ogle, who is a historian of global Europe from the 18th century to the present, was honored for her historical research on capitalism and globalization.

In her work, Ogle has created “a completely new understanding of how the concept of time has changed over 80 years against the backdrop of economic and social changes” with her book “The Global Transformation of Time: 1870-1950” (Harvard University Press), which was published in 2015, and her current book project, which traces the emergence of tax havens, offshore finance, and free trade zones to illuminate “this sophisticated system that often escapes the grasp of national governments and regulators,” according to the award announcement.

Each year, the Max Planck Society and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation confer the Max Planck-Humboldt Research Award (which carries a cash prize of 80,000 euros) and the Max Planck-Humboldt Medal (which carries of cash prize of 60,000 euros). Both awards are given to scholars outside of Germany whose work is characterized by outstanding future potential. Honorees alternate each year between the natural and engineering sciences, the life sciences, and the humanities and social sciences. One scholar wins the research award, while up to two individuals are awarded the medal.

It is a tremendous honor for me to receive a Max Planck-Humboldt Medal,” said Ogle, who came to Yale from the University of California-Berkeley, “and I am so thrilled that my research and writing on the history of offshore tax havens is recognized in this way. I care deeply about this project and feel it has important contemporary lessons to convey about efforts to combat tax evasion among the super-rich and corporations.”

Her current book project, “Archipelago Capitalism: A History of the Offshore World, 1920s-1980s,” describes the emergence of “distinctly regulated smaller territorial units and legal enclaves on the margins” of and within more sizeable nation-states. These include tax havens and offshore financial centers from the Caribbean to the Channel Islands; free economic and later export processing zones from Panama to Egypt; and the so-called Eurodollar market emanating from London, Luxembourg, and Singapore, that “formed islands of free-market capitalism that would become foundational for today’s global economy as it emerged from the 1970s and 1980s,” said Ogle.

Tax havens also facilitated the growth of inequality.”

Her earlier book, “The Global Transformation of Time,” is a history of 19th-century globalization and a revisionist account of attempts to unify clock times, calendars, and social times, Ogle said. That book, she said, “chronicles efforts to reform and transform time from 1870 to 1950, as ideas about time moved between different parts of the world or were articulated simultaneously but independently in far-flung localities.”

The book moreover is a methodological intervention in conceptualizing European history as international and global history and as such proposes a model for writing histories potentially of ‘the world’ while remaining steeped in national and local archival knowledge and training,” she added. Among other honors, “The Transformation of Time” won the George Louis Beer Prize in European international history from the American Historical Association.

Ogle said she is excited to be teaching at Yale, adding, “I can’t wait to share some of my work and the inspiration and lessons I draw from it with the fabulous undergraduate students.”

Also receiving a Max Planck-Humboldt Medal this year was Belgian historian Wim Decock for his contributions to the historical connections between religion, law, and capitalism. The Max Planck-Humboldt Research Award was given to political scientist Margaret Roberts from the University of California-San Diego for her research uncovering how the Chinese state uses information technologies for censorship.

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Bess Connolly : elizabeth.connolly@yale.edu,