Markets, Productivity, and Happiness in a Historical Perspective

Sugar, Slaves and Gold: the political economy of the Portuguese colonial empire (17th and 18th Centuries)

Cardoso José Luís , Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon

The political and economic administration of the Portuguese empire called for the use of new forms of economic language that could serve as instruments of deciphering new economic problems and realities. Territory, natural resources, capital and investment, slave labour, goods, prices, currency, international competition, tax revenue, productive innovations, colonial pact: it is from the reflection on these themes that some fresh ideas are presented on the way in which production hubs and exchange circuits were established, within the context of the management of colonial empires. At a time when economic discourse was yet to be a standardised conceptual language, it is from the description of everyday economic and financial practices that the emergence of a new way of capturing reality may be understood. It is also from political intervention purposes and projects which affect economic and financial practices that the scope of measures designed to contribute to the improvement of the relations between men and with the surrounding environment may be understood. To a large extent, the formation of economic ideas in colonial Brazil stemmed from the need to find explanations and solutions to improve the exploitation of productive resources and slave labour. In this paper, I shall analyse the contributions made by authors who were either born in Brazil or lived in Brazil for a long time, and for whom Brazil’s economic issues were the main source of their intellectual and political concerns.


Keywords: mercantilism, political economy, empire, colonies, Brazil

Please Login in order to download this file