Vanessa Ogle

Modern Europe; historical globalization and political economy; imperialism and colonialism; Europe and the Middle East;
Julie and Martin Franklin Assistant Professor of History
College Hall 206F
Office Hours: 
On Leave, 2016-2017
Teaching Schedule: 
On Leave, 2016-2017

Vanessa Ogle teaches and writes about the history of modern Europe from an international and global perspective. Prior to joining Penn's History Department in 2011 she completed a doctorate at Harvard University (2011). She has received language and thematic training in both modern Western European and Middle Eastern history, and the interactions between Europe and the Middle East are one of her main areas of interest and expertise. In 2013-2014, Ogle was a member at the Institute for Advanced Study - School of Social Science in Princeton, NJ. Ogle recently received the International Research Award 2016 in Global History administered jointly by the universities of Basel, Heidelberg, and Sydney, and her current book project on tax havens, offshore money markets, and the shadow political economy will be supported by a research grant from the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) as well as fellowships from the American Council for Learned Societies (ACLS) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) over the coming years. In 2016-2017, she is a fellow at the Shelby Cullom Davis Center at Princeton University.

Click here for a link to the conference program for Global Histories of Taxation, an event Ogle organized as part of the International Research Award 2016 in Basel in December 2016.


Ogle's first book, “The Global Transformation of Time 1870 - 1950"  follows European and American attempts to make clock times, calendars, and social time more uniform, from international conferences to Germany and France, Britain, the British Empire/German Colonies/Latin America, British India, late Ottoman Beirut, scholars of Islam in the Eastern Mediterranean, and eventually to the League of Nations. As new networks of railways, steamships, and telegraph communications brought distant places into unprecedented proximity, previously minor discrepancies in local time-telling became a global problem. Vanessa Ogle’s chronicle of the struggle to standardize clock times, calendars, and social time from 1870 to 1950 highlights the many hurdles that proponents of uniformity faced in establishing international standards.

Yet clock times and calendars were not only concepts that were standardized and internationalized. Time also had a more foundational role to play in nineteenth-century globalization. A globalizing world led contemporaries to reflect on the annihilation of space and distance and to develop a global consciousness. Time - historical, evolutionary, religious, social, or legal – served as the backdrop against which to imagine the global by comparing nations and societies and situating them in universal time. Time established the hierarchies that separated ‘advanced’ from ‘backward’ peoples in an age when such distinctions underwrote European imperialism.

Time’s role as a universal metric meant that a surprisingly wide array of observers commented on varieties of time. Involving German government officials, British social reformers, colonial administrators, Indian nationalists, Arab reformers, Muslim scholars, and League of Nation bureaucrats, such exchanges about time often heightened national and regional disparity. The standardization of clock times therefore remained incomplete as late as the 1940s, and the unification of calendars never came to pass. The Global Transformation of Time reveals how globalization was less a relentlessly homogenizing force than a slow and uneven process of adoption and adaptation that often accentuated national differences. In addition to shedding light on the dynamics of historical globalization and an interconnected world, Contesting Time is a methodological intervention in the practice of global history and provides one model for writing the history of processes that encompass and affect potentially nothing less than ‘the world.’


Ogle's next book project, "Archipelago Capitalism: The Other International Political Economy, ca. 1870s-1980s," explores the formation of a distinctly non-territorial and non-national economic and legal order that was put in place in the postwar decades and that would come to form the basis for today's global economy as it emerged from the 1970s and 1980s. The book will focus on Britain, Germany, the United States, and France, and look at the emergence of tax havens and offshore finance, unregulated currency markets, and special economic zones in the shadow of the public eye.


Another project Ogle is pursuing is a legal and intellectual history of the question, who has the right to own and access natural resources like minerals, oil, and water, ca. 1870s-present. The project is currently titled "Owning the Earth: The Struggle to Control Natural Resources," and will consist of a number of case studies from a range of regional backgrounds and debates at the level of international law and international organizations, as well as NGOs. Future interestes include a history of the Egyptian Society of Political Economy, Statistics, and Legislation, founded in 1909 in Cairo, as well as the history of Tangier from the early 19th to the mid-20th century.





The Global Transformation of Time 1870 - 1950 (Harvard University Press, October 2015).

Social Science History Association President’s Award, best first book, 2014

Berkshire Conference of Women Historians' prize for a best first book in any field other than history of women, gender, sexuality, 2016

American Historical Association's George Louis Beer Prize for the best book in European International History Since 1895, 2016

Non-academic reviews have been published in the Financial Times, The Atlantic, the Times Literary Supplement, and Foreign Affairs


“Whose Time is It? The Pluralization of Time and the Global Condition, 1870s to 1940s," American Historical Review 120, no. 5 (Dec. 2013): 1376-1402.

Winner of the Council for European Studies' First Article Prize in the Humanities for articles published during a two-year period between 2012 and 2013

"State Rights Against Private Capital: The 'New International Economic Order (NIEO)' and the Struggle Over Aid, Trade, and Foreign Investment, 1962-1981," Humanity (2014).



Review of Jürgen Osterhammel, The Transformation of the World, Journal of World History, forthcoming, 2016.

Review of Alexis McCrossen, Marking Modern Times, American Historical Review 121, no. 3 (2014): 885-886.
Courses Taught: 
  • HIST 137 International Society in the Twentieth Century
  • HIST 202 Empires and Decolonization
  • HIST 206 Globalization: The First Wave
  • HIST 421 European International Relations Since WWI 
    HIST 670 Approaches to Cross-Regional History