Michael Andrew Žmolek


Case Studies in the Origins of Capitalism © 2019 now Available - Book Launch in London, UK

Case Studies BookOn October 2, 2018, Palgrave Publishers announced the publication of this new title, edited by Xavier La France (UQAM) and Charles Post (SUNY). The collection is dedicated to the late Ellen Meiksins Wood, who taught at York University from 1967 to 1996. Expanding and building upon Ellen's work and the work of Robert Brenner (UCLA), Case Studies represents an effort to broaden the debate over the origins of capitalism to a global context, with chapters on the emergence of capitalism in England, France, Catalonia in Spain, the United States, Canada, Japan, Turkey and Taiwan, as well as a chapter on the relationship between patriarchy and the emergence of capitalism.

We begin with agrarian capitalism, a term which Brenner and Wood have used to describe the period of transition to capitalism in England prior to the Industrial Revolution. Mike's contribution is chapter 3: ‘“Compelled to Sell All”: Proletarianization, Agrarian Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution’ attempts to present a sketch of the transition from agrarian capitalism to industrial capitalism and the first Industrial Revolution in England.

The first book launch took place on May 17-20, 2018 at the HM Conference in Montréal. A second book launch took place on November 10, 2018 at the HM Conference in London, UK.

At the same HM London conference, Mike presented a paper titled ‘Enclosing Africa: Peasants, Land Grabs and Capitalism’s End Game’ and joined a panelist of 'critics' appraising the recent book: The Social History of Agriculture: From the Origins to the Current Crisis (© 2016 Rowman & Littlefield) by Christopher Isett (U Minnesota) and Stephen Miller (U Alabama).


‘Adam Smith as Theorist of Agrarian Capitalism’

Adam Smith is widely viewed as the ‘father of capitalism,’ but Smith was writing at the cusp of the Industiral Revolution. At the European Studies Conference at the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO), October 5-7, 2018, Mike presented a paper under the title above, arguing that Smith’s Wealth of Nations gives us a window into the workings of agrarian capitalism, but is incorrectly perceived as a work which justifies let alone accurately describes modern industrial capitalism. At the 2017 conference at UNO mike presented a related paper titled ‘Market Dependence, Market Imperatives and the Making of Industrial Capitalism in England’, which has been published in the conference proceedings.

‘Primary Sources in Teaching: Collaborations Between Libraries and Faculty’

In the fall of 2017 Professor Žmolek taught History Matters: The Russian Revolution of 1917. This course will be taught again in the Spring of 2019. The documentary archive Socialism On Film is used for this course for films. On April 24, 2018, Mike was invited to take part in this webinar, hosted by Ben Lacey of Adam Curtis, to discuss the usefulness of online archives in university teaching. Joining Mike on this panel were: Dr. George Oberle (George Mason) and Kelsey Waters (Cal State Fullerton).

Audio available: click here. Also available on Youtube.

Russian Revolution 100 Years On‘The Russian Revolution 100 Years On’

2017 marked the hundredth anniversary of the Russian revolution. That tumultuous century saw Russia reject the Romanov dynasty which had ruled for over three hundred years and embrace a new ideology whose leader, Vladimir Lenin, would become the head of the world’s first communist state. The world watched as the Soviet Union re-created a Russian-dominated empire, lost millions of lives to purges and terror, withstood the onslaught of Nazi Germany, faced off against the West during the Cold War, then dissolved, with Russia re-emerging under Vladimir Putin as a central player in global power politics. On November 21, 2017, International Programs at UI presented a WorldCanvass panel titled ‘The Russian Revolution 100 Years On’ hosted by Joan Kjaer. The panel began with a summary overview of how the October 1917 Revolution played out in St. Petersburg by Mike Žmolek, followed by UI colleagues Anna Barker and Nathan Platte discussing Russian art from the revolution through socialist realism,William Reisinger and Michaela Hoenicke Moore, discussing Russia on the world stage today.

Audio and transcription available: click here. Press: review | op-ed

Seven Myths About Immigration

Seven Myths About ImmigrationMass movement of peoples across border is here to stay, and the numbers are only bound to increase even more dramatically. On November 3, 2016, Mike gave a presentation on 'Seven Myths About Immigration' to the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council, challenging popular claims about immigration and focusing on the US-Mexico border. This talk challenges seven myths fueling the rising tide of hysteria by exploring often-ignored truths about immigration, starting with the re-structuring of the global labor market during the past several decades of neoliberal globalization.

Video available: click here.


The Moldova ProjectSupport the Moldova Project

Moldova as one of the poorest countries in Europe. The social dislocation and impoverishment that occurred in the aftermath of the break-up of the Soviet Union have left many people vulnerable to exploitation. Mike traveled to Moldova in August 2016 to volunteer with the Moldova Project, a UK-based charity which works with low income families, with the goal of ensuring that every child enjoys the right to an education, a family and a safe home. The project also helps young people find medical care and job opportunities. Volunteers for this amazing project are helping to build and upgrade homes for families in low income villages and to work directly with orphans of all ages at orphanages in Chișinău, the capital of Moldova, and Orhei. There is so much need here and this project is doing amazing work and deserves your support.

To read more or to donate, go to the Moldova Project's homepage.

Interested in volunteering? Pick up a flyer in my office: 169 Schaeffer Hall.


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Mike ZmolekMichael Andrew Žmolek teaches World History, International Studies and Development Studies at the University of Iowa. His book Rethinking the Industrial Revolution (Brill 2013; Haymarket 2014) explores five centuries of English/British history and is part of a broader effort to understand the nature and origins of capitalism. He is currently part of a team writing a world history textbook for Cognella Publishers. Mike received a BA in Linguistics and a Certificate of African studies at Iowa before going on to complete his PhD in Political Science at York University in Toronto, where he served as an executive of the Graduate Students' Association for four years. As a legislative assistant in Congress, his work focused on addressing the plight of Gulf Coast survivors of Hurricane Katrina and on drafting articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for representatives Cynthia McKinney (GA) and Dennis Kucinich (OH). As an activist he has worked on the campaign to abolish apartheid in South Africa; opposing tuition hikes for students in Canada; and opposing the bombing, sanctions and military occupation of Iraq.