Director’s Book Forum: The War of Words: A Glossary of Globalization

Oct 13, 2021, 12:00 pm1:30 pm
Bowl A71 Louis A. Simpson International Building
Princeton University faculty, staff, and students
Event Description

Join Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies for a Director’s Book Forum with Harold James. Professor James, who will give a lecture about his new book, The War of Words: A Glossary of GlobalizationPlease note that this event is restricted to University students, faculty, and staff. 


Professor James' new book is a timely call for recovering the true meanings of the nineteenth-century terms that are hobbling current political debates. Nationalism, conservatism, liberalism, socialism, and capitalism are among the most fiercely debated ideas in contemporary politics. Since these concepts hark back to the nineteenth century, much of their nuanced meaning has been lost, and the words are most often used as epithets that short-circuit productive discussion. In this insightful book, Harold James uncovers the origins of these concepts and examines how the problematic definition and meaning of each term has become an obstacle to respectful communication. Noting that similar linguistic misunderstandings accompany such newer ideas as geopolitics, neoliberalism, technocracy, and globalism, James argues that a rich historical knowledge of the vocabulary surrounding globalization, politics, and economics-particularly the meaning and the usefulness that drove the original conceptions of the terms-is needed to negotiate the gaps between different understandings and make fruitful political debate once again possible.

Harold James is the Claude and Lore Kelly Professor in European Studies and Professor of History and International Affairs at Princeton University. He studies economic and financial history and modern European history. James was a Fellow of Peterhouse for eight years before joining Princeton University in 1986. In 2004 he was awarded the Helmut Schmidt Prize for Economic History and in 2005 the Ludwig Erhard Prize for writing about economics. His books include "Family Capitalism," Harvard University Press, 2006; The Creation and Destruction of Value: The Globalization Cycle, Harvard University Press, 2009; Making the European Monetary Union, Harvard University Press, 2012; The Euro and the Battle of Economic Ideas (with Markus K. Brunnermeier and Jean-Pierre Landau), Princeton University Press, 2016; and Making a Modern Central Bank, Cambridge University Press, 2020.