Lea Haller

Born in: Switzerland
Primary research category: History
Research location / employer: Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences SAGW, Bern, Switzerland
Fellowship dates: 2012-2017

Academic Career

  • Co-Head of the General Secretariat of the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences (SAGW), 2024–present
  • Chief editor of the history magazine «NZZ Geschichte» published by Switzerland’s leading newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 2018–2024
  • Research Associate at the University of Zurich, 2017 – 2018
  • Postdoctoral position at ETH Zurich, 2012–2017
  • Visiting Scholar at the Paul Bairoch Institute of Economic History at University of Geneva, 2014–2016
  • Fellow at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University, 2013–2014
  • Visiting Scholar at Sciences Po Paris, 2012–2013


  • PhD in History at ETH Zurich, 2012
  • Fellowship at the New Europe College Bucharest, 2011
  • Fellowship at the Collegium Budapest, 2010
  • MA in History, Cultural Anthropology and German Linguistics at the University of Zurich, 2006

Fellowship Research

During her fellowship, Dr. Lea Haller investigated the history of global commodity trade with a focus on Swiss trading companies. Contrary to general assumption, global trade in the modern era was not primarily driven by the imperial powers, but by a bourgeois elite in countries with a high level of global integration and economic interdependence. Switzerland is a case in point. The small, neutral country had a large trading sector since the mid-19th century and is the biggest trading place worldwide today. Its merchanting trade by far exceeded the import and export of the country. Lea’s book «Transithandel. Geld- und Warenströme im globalen Kapitalismus» was published by Suhrkamp in 2019 (2nd edition 2023).

Major Contributions

  • Developed a new approach to the history of global capitalism, integrating the role of small countries.
  • Contributed to our knowledge of global commodity trade and transnational financial transactions.
  • Published the first book on the history of cortisone from a history of science and technology perspective.
  • Reflected on the history of innovation in modern society.

Major Awards

  • Research grant from the Swiss National Foundation (SNF) for young research scientists, 2012
  • ETH Zurich medal, 2012
  • Research grant from the Swiss National Foundation (SNF), 2009–2012
  • Research grant from the Vögelin-Bienz-Stiftung für das Basler Staatsarchiv, 2007–2008