Nicholas Mulder

Assistant Professor and Milstein Faculty Fellow


Nicholas Mulder works on European and international history between the nineteenth century and the present. His research focuses on political, economic, legal and intellectual history, with particular attention to the era of the world wars between 1914 and 1945.

His first book, The Economic Weapon: The Rise of Sanctions as a Tool of Modern War (Yale University Press, 2022) is a history of the interwar origins of economic sanctions. The book shows how sanctions reconfigured international affairs by enabling distant coercion against civilian societies in peacetime. Based on wartime blockade practices, the instrument of sanctions presented a novel way to avoid or stop interstate war. It became embedded in the League of Nations and national state policy, and spurred new economic interventions, as well as anti-liberal bids for autarky. Sanctions were a potent but unpredictable political tool, one whose importance to the international crisis of the 1930s and 1940s is much greater than usually assumed. The Economic Weapon was named a Best Book of 2022 by The Economist and Foreign Affairs. Japanese and Chinese translations are forthcoming.

Mulder is currently writing a second book, The Age of Confiscation, on the international history of expropriation. This book focuses on the process of making and taking property within the great transformations of the 19th and 20th centuries, and examines how large-scale asset transfers have been a vital force in the political and economic history of capitalist democracies.

Other interests include the history of Eurasia in the long run; the relationship between economic globalization, democracy, and authoritarianism; the experience of small countries in the global condition; the history of political and economic thought; and philosophy of history. 

Mulder has written about European history, politics, economics, and international affairs for a variety of newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The Economist, Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, n+1, New Left Review, The Nation, The New Statesman, Merkur, Dissent, H-DiploHet Financieel Dagblad, Le Grand Continent, Internazionale and other publications. Links to his articles, essays, and book reviews are available through his personal website

Research Focus

  • Political and economic history of modern Europe
  • International history
  • Historical political economy
  • Economic sanctions
  • Confiscation and property regimes
  • History of war (especially WWI)
  • Varieties of internationalism
  • History of international law



The Economic Weapon: The Rise of Sanctions as a Tool of Modern War (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2022).

Articles and Book Chapters

"The Neoliberal Transition in Economic History," Journal of the History of Ideas Vol. 84 No. 3 (July 2023).

"The Sanctions Weapon," Finance and Development: A Quarterly Publication of the International Monetary Fund Vol. 59 Issue 2 (June 2022): 20-23.

(With Boyd van Dijk), "Why Did Starvation Not Become the Paradigmatic War Crime in International Law?" in Kevin Jon Heller and Ingo Venzke, eds., Contingency in International Law: On the Possibility of Different Legal Histories (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021): 370-390.

"The Trading with the Enemy Acts in the Age of Expropriation, 1914-1949," Journal of Global History Vol. 15, No. 1 (March 2020): 81-99.

"‘A Retrograde Tendency’: The Expropriation of German Property in the Versailles Treaty," Journal of the History of International Law/Revue d'histoire du droit international Vol. 22, No. 1 (2020): 507-530.

"The Rise and Fall of Euro-American Inter-State War," Humanity, Vol. 10, No. 1 (Spring 2019).  

"War Finance," in Ute Daniel, Peter Gatrell, Oliver Janz, Heather Jones, Jennifer Keene, Alan Kramer, and Bill Nasson, eds., 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, Freie Universität Berlin (February 2018).

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