The economics of pain: Pain in Dutch stock trade discourses and practices, 1600-1750

I.B. Leemans*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


In the early modern period, bourses were scenes of physical exchange. As most of our stock trade has grown into a virtual interplay between online traders and algorithms, researching the embodied stock trade of the early modern bourse floor can provide insight in the performance of trade and the role violence and pain played in this sector. This chapter researches the physical practices of stock trade on the Amsterdam exchange in the 17th and 18th century, with special attention for the role of the general public in this ‘financial theatre’. While exploring economic practices and concepts through images, artists made use of concepts of physicality to make distinctions between different kinds of trade. This becomes all the more transparent in the 1720s, when the South Sea Bubble spurred a wind trade in visual and textual commentaries. Cartoons, poems and theatre plays represented speculative trade through the image of clashing and hurting bodies. When and why did the stock trade hurt? What was the role of the public and the governing bodies in this deep play? How can the economy’s sick and hurting body be cured? This chapter will analyse the sensitivities of the painful stock trade practices on the bourse floor and in the theatre.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Hurt(ful) Body
Subtitle of host publicationPerforming and Beholding Pain, 1600-1800
EditorsTomas Macsotay, Cornelis van der Haven, Karel Vanhaesebrouck
Place of PublicationManchester
PublisherManchester University Press
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9781526128249, 9781526113511
ISBN (Print)9781784995164
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • History of Finance
  • Emotion and Sensory Studies
  • Pain
  • Visual culture
  • stock markets
  • cultural history
  • Affective Economies
  • Dutch Republic


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