Histoire contemporaine européenne

Global tax chains: Actors and practices of global capitalism in the second half of the 20th century

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Global tax chains: Actors and practices of global capitalism in the second half of the 20th century
Workshop on 18-19 January 2024 at the Centre Marc Bloch in Berlin, co-organised with the C²DH. Deadline: 31 May 2023.

As chains of wealth became global in the world economy (Seabroke&Wigan, 2022), so did tax strategies. These topics have gained increasing attention over the past fifteen years as the crisis of 2007/2008 renewed the discussion on inequalities and (fiscal) justice. Humanities and social sciences have played an important role in framing debates on this topic. Over the past twenty to thirty years, wealth has come to be produced less by manufacturing cars or building houses than by moving capital across jurisdictions, creating multi-jurisdictional spaces where national states, global companies, local financial “plumbers” and international organisations developed, maintained and governed global tax chains.

This workshop has a dual purpose. First, it intends to take stock of these ongoing international and interdisciplinary debates. Second, it aims to deepen the historical dimensions of phenomena that are beginning to be well documented for today's world but still sometimes lack temporal depth. Not only have notions of fiscal justice and legitimate tax engineering changed over the decades; there has also been a significant reshaping of legal and technical infrastructures at national and international level. As long-established fiscal experts such as lawyers have reinvented themselves as “coders of capital” (Pistor 2019), new professions have arisen around tax practices, especially in the large audit companies. It has only been possible for tax chains to become global in the last 50 years because there has been no real globalisation of tax regulations. Specific national characteristics have created a differentiated world of legal markets that has paved the way for the development of a complex network of competing tax chains. As the political world order changed during and after the Cold War, complex international tax arrangements added an important but rarely publicly discussed dimension to global capitalism. And as the increasing technification of tax law and its framing as expert knowledge intrinsically only open to a small minority of initiated professions and their clients worked as a powerful anaesthetic for public debates, recurrent financial scandals (Mazbouri et al., 2020) have not only offered glimpses of hidden practices, actors and structures but also created recurrent publicity and therefore politicisation of tax regulations at global level.

Please submit your abstract (max. 200 words) and a short bio to Benoît Majerus (benoit.majerus@uni.lu) and Jakob Vogel (jakob.vogel@cmb.hu-berlin.de) by the 31st May 2023. All abstract should include a paper title, author name(s) and affiliation(s), professional status, and contact details. Notification of paper acceptance will be given by end-June.