Lea Haller

Born in: Switzerland
Primary research category: History
Research location / employer: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Zurich, Switzerland
Fellowship dates: 2012-2017

Academic Career

  • Chief editor of the history magazine «NZZ Geschichte» published by Switzerland’s leading newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 2018 – present
  • 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. Die Rolle des Kleinstaats im globalen Kapitalismus will be published with Suhrkamp in 2019.

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