Dr. James Parisot is the author of How America Became Capitalist: Imperial Expansion and the Conquest of the West and co-editor of American Hegemony and the Rise of Emerging Powers: Cooperation or Conflict?. He has also published numerous journal articles and has over seven years of teaching experience having taught at, among other schools, Binghamton University and Temple University. He currently teaches part time in the Department of Sociology at Drexel University. His general research and teaching interests include historical sociology, American history, race, class, and gender, and the political economy of global capitalism. 

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Has America always been capitalist? Today, the US sees itself as the heartland of the international capitalist system, its society and politics intertwined deeply with its economic system. This book looks at the history of North America from the founding of the colonies to debunk the myth that America is 'naturally' capitalist.

From the first white-settler colonies, capitalist economic elements were apparent, but far from dominant, and did not drive the early colonial advance into the West. Society, too, was far from homogeneous - as the role of the state fluctuated. Racial identities took time to imprint, and slavery, whilst at the heart of American imperialism, took both capitalist and less-capitalist forms. Additionally, gender categories and relations were highly complex, as standards of ‘manhood’ and ‘womanhood’ shifted over time to accommodate capitalism, and as there were always some people challenging this binary. 

By looking at this fascinating and complex picture, James Parisot weaves a groundbreaking historical materialist perspective on the history of American expansion.




Over the last decade, the United States' position as the world's most powerful state has appeared increasingly unstable. The US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, non-traditional security threats, global economic instability, the apparent spread of authoritarianism and illiberal politics, together with the rise of emerging powers from the Global South have led many to predict the end of Western dominance on the global stage. This book brings together scholars from international relations, economics, history, sociology and area studies to debate the future of US leadership in the international system. The book analyses the past, present and future of US hegemony in key regions in the Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Middle East, Europe and Africa – while also examining the dynamic interactions of US hegemony with other established, rising and re-emerging powers such as Russia, China, Japan, India, Turkey and South Africa.

American Hegemony and the Rise of Emerging Powers explores how changes in the patterns of cooperation and conflict among states, regional actors and transnational non-state actors have affected the rise of emerging global powers and the suggested decline of US leadership. Scholars, students and policy practitioners who are interested in the future of the US-led international system, the rise of emerging powers from the Global South and related global policy challenges will find this multidisciplinary volume an invaluable guide to the shifting position of American hegemony.


Editor, Special Issue of the Journal of Historical Sociology Available Here:

This paper aims to rethink United States history from the colonial era through the Civil War and Reconstruction by examining how capitalism and empire joined together as the logic of expansion increasingly became driven by the logic of capital over approximately two hundred and fifty years. Specifically, it argues that (what became) the United States originated as a ‘society with capitalism’ and became a ‘capitalist society’. This transition was a highly complex and uneven process as a variety of social forms developed and interacted, and in which there was not one road to capitalism, but a variety, depending on the historical circumstance. To accomplish this, first, the article reviews the Marx‐Weber debate to develop a theoretical and methodological approach to the historical sociology of capitalism. The remainder of the paper focuses on narrating an empirical interpretation of the transition to capitalism including the diversity of labor forms capital historically utilized.

This study argues that a historical materialist theory of what a capitalist empire is has yet to be fully articulated. It proceeds to lay out such a theory. The paper outlines a theory of capitalist empire situated in relation to a historical materialist conceptualization of how capitalism operates. In this I distinguish state and imperialism as aspects of capitalist empires, but empire itself as something related to, but larger than these historical processes. I also locate capitalist empires in relation to the logic of capitalism and its crises tendencies, and the way the logic of capital plays out over uneven development and the exploitation of a variety of labor forms. Additionally, the paper examines the racialized, gendered, and ecological aspects of capitalist empires in an attempt to begin to explain the political economy of capitalist empires as total social wholes.

This paper situates geopolitical economy in light of a broader rethinking of the history of capitalism and international power. It discusses why the ideas of British and American hegemony are problematic. Specifically, it argues that categorizing these powers as hegemonic leaves out a more complex history that theories of hegemony have excluded, and cannot include, else the concept of hegemony would collapse. Finally, I suggest geopolitical economy may be a starting point for writing a new history of capitalism and world order.

Recent years have seen a revival of discussions on American decline. This paper intervenes in this debate by suggesting that there is a tendency towards partial conceptualisations of US power. It suggests a new historical materialist perspective that makes it possible to theorise American Empire as a relational social totality embedded within global capitalism. The paper then analyses the social limits of China’s rise and the integration of East Asian regionalisation into American Empire, suggesting the extent to which world power has shifted east has tended to be overestimated. It also analyses the emergence of Brazil, India, and the brics meetings, suggesting these developments have a limited, but overstated, capacity to challenge American Empire.




This class examines how contemporary global inequalities of wealth and power were shaped in a historical context. We will start by examining how the modern world was formed through the history of colonialism, slavery, and the origins of racialized power. From there, the class will look at social class and economic inequality, and in this context we will discuss gender and race, including how and why racism persists, how gender and social and economic power are linked, and the intersectional relations between race, gender, and class, among other issues. Finally, we will move towards a global picture of how inequality and politics intersect on a world scale, and end the class by examining how economic and social inequalities might be challenged both by policies and social movements.


This class examines the ideas of key thinkers in the classic sociological tradition. We will focus particularly on Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Emile Durkheim—often considered the ‘founders’ of the sociological perspective—but also look at the works of W.E.B. Du Bois, the history of feminist sociology, and discuss some voices that were historically marginalized from the traditional canon. Through the lens of these thinkers we will look at questions of power, capitalism, modernity, class, race, gender, and politics, among other issues. Towards the end of the class we will also look at the ideas of Erving Goffman to examine the role of self and performance in society, and end by considering some (relatively) more recent ‘classic’ works.


This course will examine foundational issues in sociology. It will be divided into three components. First, we will discuss the following questions: what is sociology? What do sociologists study? Here, we will look at, among other things, definitions of social class, the history of race and racism, and the social construction of gender. Secondly, we will examine a variety of influential sociological thinkers, from classical sociology onward, to familiarize students with some of the 'big names' in the field of sociology. Third, we will use this knowledge to examine contemporary issues of race, the prison system, the labor movement, and social movements.


This course gives an overview of the history and sociology of racial formation and economic inequality in the Americas. We will begin by examining the question: what is race? Next the class looks at the history of how race became a part of the modern world through the history of slavery, capitalism, and European empire-building. We will examine this, first, through the lens of North American plantation slavery and, secondly, through the history of European colonialism in Latin America. The final portion of the class will examine racism, Black Lives Matter, and indigenous social movements today.


This class introduces students to social science research methods. Methods are the tools and processes social scientists uses to make sense of history and society, from micro to macro scales. In this class we will examine a variety of ways scholars, from many disciplines, do this. We will begin by asking: what is the purpose of social science? Why do this research? Secondly, we look at the history of how divisions between sociology, history, economics, political science, and anthropology formed, leading to the existing division of academic labor. From here, we will dig into quantitative methods: specifically, the question of both the necessity and problematic nature of statistics. Following this, we will examine, first, ethnography and, secondly, primary source research. After covering many basic research techniques, we will then begin to look at several broader questions, particularly the ways that gender, race, and class shape social science methods, and how, in their own rights, they present challenges for researchers. This will lead us to spend one week looking at historical sociology and, finally, we will conclude with a discussion of the relationship between research, knowledge, and power.


This class aims to present students with a historical understanding of the role of American Empire in the history of capitalism. We will begin by examining the foundations of the making of the American state and what it means to think of American power, from its origin, as empire. The rest of the course will look at the history of American Empire, up to the present day. We will discuss the Louisiana Purchase, War of 1812, conquest of Florida from the Spanish, colonization of Texas and the Mexican-American War, Spanish-American War, the reconstruction of capitalism following the Second World War, and rise of neoliberalism in the 1970s among other significant historical turning points. Finally, the class will examine the question of American Empire and global capitalism today, focusing on the relations between American Empire and the rise of so-called 'emerging powers', global crisis, and the ‘War on Terror’.


The rise of China over the last several decades has been part and parcel of the re-making of world political, social, and economic relations on a global scale. Some scholars are suggesting we are moving into a post-American world in which power will be diffused among several centers, or else China may 'rule the world'. On the other hand, the United States remains the most powerful political and economic force on the planet, suggesting that these claims may potentially be overstated. The goal of this class is to introduce students to this debate in a broad historical context. The class is divided into three sections. First, we will examine the relatively recent turn towards a non-Eurocentric historiography, examining the place of Asia and Europe in a world-historical perspective.Second, we will look at the rise of an American centered world capitalist order after the Second World War. From here the class will cover the history of the post-war era from the perspective of American power, asking the questions: to what degree are China and other emerging powers integrated into American power in contrast to the extent they are independent from, or breaking from American leadership? Third, we will read about the rise of China and the social contradictions this has created, along with the possible limits and problems of China's developmental path. We will also examine the contemporary political economy of emerging powers and the BRICS countries in this context, focusing on the attempts of the BRICS to provide an institutional architecture that moves both through and past American power. 



last updated September 2019


PhD Sociology, Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York, 2016.

Dissertation Title: “American Expansion: The Transition to Capitalism on the Frontier of Colonization.”

MA Political Science, York University, Toronto, Canada, 2009.

Thesis Title: “Beyond the State Debate: Capitalism and the Interstate System.”

BA Liberal Arts, The Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington, 2006.


Historical SociologyHistory of CapitalismUS History

GlobalizationRace, Class, and GenderSociological Theory


Books and Edited Journals

Editor, Special Issue, Journal of Historical Sociology, “Capitalist Transitions, Empire-Building, and American History.” Forthcoming 2020.

How America Became Capitalist: Imperial Expansion and the Conquest of the West. Pluto Press. February 2019.

American Hegemony and the Rise of Emerging Powers: Cooperation or Conflict?

Co-Edited with Salvador Santino F. Regilme Jr. (Associate Professor of International Studies, University of Leiden). Routledge. October 2017.

Peer-Reviewed Papers

(Forthcoming) with Salvador Santino F. Regilme Jr., “American Hegemony and Trumpism,” Routledge Handbook of Transformative Global Studies, 2019.

“The Two Hundred and Fifty Year Transition: How the American Empire became Capitalist.” Journal of Historical Sociology. 30(3), 2017.

“What is, and what is not, a Capitalist Empire.” International Critical Thought. 6(1), 2016.

“Expanding Geopolitical Economy: A Critique of the Theory of Successive Hegemonies.” Research in Political Economy: Theoretical Engagements in Geopolitical Economy. Edited by Radhika Desai. Volume 30a, 2015.

 “American Power, East Asian Regionalism, and Emerging Powers: In or Against Empire?” Third World Quarterly. 34(7), 2013.

Op-Eds, Book Reviews, and Interviews

Interview with The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History. June 2019.

"White Terror and American Capital." American Sociological Association Marxist Sociology Blog, March 2019. 

"Has America Always Been Capitalist?" Open Democracy: Transformations, February 2019. 

"The Real History of Imperialism: A Comment on Recent Debates." Review of African Political Economy (Imperialism in the 21st Century Debate), February 2019.

"Imperialism and Capitalism: As American as Apple Pie?" The Bullet February 2019. 

James Parisot and Salvador Santino F. Regilme Jr., “US Hegemony and Rising Powers in the Era of Trump.” E-International Relations. February 2018.

James Parisot and Salvador Santino F. Regilme Jr. “Is American Power in Decline? Rising Powers in the Era of Trump.” Rising Powers in Global Governance. February 2018.

“The West, ISIS, and the Legacy of Empire.” Policy Trajectories. December 2015.


“The BRICS and American Global Power.” International Policy Digest. November 2015.

Patrick Bond and Ana Garcia (Eds.). BRICS: An Anti-Capitalist Critique. Marx and Philosophy Review of Books, October 2015.

Interviewed for NPR affiliate WSKG Radio. “Pay-Per-Student Policy Forces BU Adjuncts to Get Creative.” August 2015.

Interviewed for Time Warner Cable News. “Using Sex Appeal and Video Games to Sell Classes.” August 2015.

“Who Will Take Responsibility for Unfair System?” Connection: University Union Professors Binghamton Chapter. Newsletter 88, March 2015.

Radhika Desai. Geopolitical Economy: After US Hegemony, Globalization, and Empire. Review of Political Economy, September 2014.

“American Empire, Global Crisis, and the Rise of China: An Interview with Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin.” International Critical Thought. 3(2), 2013.

Alexander Gallas, Lars Bretthauer, John Kannankulam, and Ingo Stützle (Eds). Reading Poulantzas. Marx and Philosophy Review of Books, 2013.

Dilip K. Das. Journal of International and Global Studies, 3(2). The Asian Economy: Spearheading the Recovery from the Global Financial Crisis, 2012.

Christopher M. Dent. East Asian Regionalism. East Asian Integration Studies, 2011.


Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

Adjunct Faculty, Sociology

Classical Social Theory, Fall 2018, Fall 2019

Introduction to Sociology, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Summer 2019

Wealth and Power, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Summer 2018, Spring 2019

Social Problems, Summer 2019

Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

Adjunct Faculty, Sociology

The History and Significance of Race in America, Fall 2019

Race and Poverty in the Americas, Fall 2017

Introduction to Sociology, Spring 2016

Philadelphia University, Philadelphia, PA

Adjunct Faculty

Global Issues, Fall 2016

Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY

Research Methods, Spring 2016

Globalizing US Power, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

US, China, and Emerging Powers, Spring 2014

Video Games and Global Capitalism, Summer 2013, 2014

Teaching Assistant

Introduction to Sociology, Fall 2011, Fall 2012

Introduction to Social Theory, Spring 2011, Spring 2012

Post University, Waterbury, CT

Introduction to Sociology, Fall 2013 to Summer 2016

Sociology of Alcohol and Drugs, Spring 2016

Sociology of Family, Fall 2014, Summer 2015, Fall 2015

Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, Fall 2014


GGB Bearings West Deptford, NJ. February-March 2019.

Other Research Experience

Research Assistant for Professor Leo Panitch

York University, Toronto, Ontario, Fall 2008 to Summer 2009


“How America Became Capitalist.” Wooden Shoe Books, Philadelphia, July 2019.

“How America Became Capitalist.” People’s Forum, NYC, July 2019.

“White Terrorism and American Capitalism.” Left Forum, NYC, June 2019.

“The Political Economy of American Empire in a Multi-Polar World? An 'Empire as a Social Totality' Perspective.” From the Thirty Years’ Crisis to Multipolarity: the Geopolitical Economy of the 21st Century World. Winnipeg, September 2015.

“Capital as Power: A Marxist Critique.” Crisis of Capital, Crisis of Theory. York University, Toronto, October 2010.


Discussion of “How America Became Capitalist.” Left Forum, NYC, June 2019.

Author Meets Critics “How America Became Capitalist.” Historical Materialism, NYC, April 2019.

“Capital, Violence, and American Imperialism,” Historical Materialism, Toronto, May 2016.

“American Hegemony, the Rise of China, and Future of the World Order.” International Studies Association Annual Conference. Toronto, March 2014.


“How America Became Capitalist.” American Sociological Association Annual Conference, New York, August 2019.

Book Talk: “How America Became Capitalist.” Left Forum, NYC, June 2019.

Congress of the Humanities and Social Science/Socialist Studies: Circuits of Capital, Circuits of Solidarity. Vancouver, Canada “How America Became Capitalist.” June 2019.

Book Launch: “How America Became Capitalist: Imperial Expansion and the Conquest of the West.” Historical Materialism, NYC, April 2019

“Many Masculinities in the Rise of American Capitalism.” Eastern Sociological Society Annual Conference, Boston 2019.

“How America Became Capitalist.” American Sociological Association Annual Conference, Philadelphia, August 2018.

“Race, Gender, and American Expansion.” Global Studies Association Annual Conference, Washington DC, June 2018.

“Westward the Course of Empire!: How the United States Became Capitalist.” Eastern Sociological Society Annual Conference, Baltimore, February, 2018.

“Historical Materialism and the History of Empire.” Marx’s Capital at 150, Hofstra University, Long Island, NY, April 2017.

“The Historical Sociology of American Empire.” Historical Materialism, Toronto, May 2016.

“Gender, Empire, and the Origins of American Capitalism.” Historical Materialism, New York City, April 2015.

“The Making of a Capitalist Empire: The Transformation of American Power.” Binghamton University Sociology Talk Series. March 2015.

“Global Capitalism, World-Empire?” Global Studies Conference. Chicago, June 2014.

“American Power, East Asia, and Emerging Powers: In or Against Empire?” Historical Materialism. London, November 2013.

“American Empire and Emerging Powers.” Historical Materialism. New York City, April 2013.

“American Power, East Asian Regionalism, and Emerging Powers: In or Against Empire?” International Studies Association Annual Conference, San Francisco, April 2013.

“American Empire and East Asian Regionalism.” European Consortium for Political Research Graduate Student Conference, Bremen, Germany, June 2012.

“Imperial Space and Geographies of Resistance.” Historical Materialism. Toronto, May 2012.

“Theorizing American Empire in the Age of Global Capitalism.” Northeastern University Graduate Student Conference: Empires and Technologies and Empires in World History. Boston, March 2012.

“American Empire and Emerging Powers: Theory and History.” SUNY Binghamton Graduate Student Conference in the Historical Social Sciences. April 2012.

“Gramsci, Hegemony, and British Power: Were the British Hegemonic?” SUNY Binghamton Sociology Research Working Day, April 2011.


International Critical Thought

Journal of Historical Sociology

Review of Social Economy


Conference Organizer: Third Biennial Binghamton Graduate Student Conference on World Historical Social Science, 2012.

Conference Organizer: Fourth Biennial Binghamton Graduate Student Conference on World Historical Social Science, 2014.

Sociology Graduate Student Union Representative to Graduate Student Employees Union (Communication Workers of America 1104). 2011-2012.


American Sociological Association

Eastern Sociological Society

Social Science History Association


Drexel University Adjunct Professional Development Award. Spring 2019

Filson Historical Society Research Fellowship, Louisville KY, Summer 2017

Geopolitical Economy Conference Travel Award, 2015

Binghamton University Conference Travel Awards, 2012-2015

Binghamton University Tuition Scholarship, 2010-2013

VISA Tuition Scholarship, York University, 2008-2009

Comparative Political Economy Scholarship, York University, 2008-2009


Leo Panitch

Professor Emeritus, Political Science

York University

Walden Bello

Ex-Member, Philippines House of Representatives

Senior Analyst, Focus on the Global South

Binghamton University, Professor of Sociology

Frederic Deyo

Professor of Sociology

Binghamton University

Susan Bell

Department Head and Professor of Sociology

Drexel University