Taking a new approach to the study of cross-cultural trade, this book blends archival research with historical narrative and economic analysis to understand how the Sephardic Jews of Livorno, Tuscany, traded in regions near and far in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Francesca Trivellato tests assumptions about ethnic and religious trading diasporas and networks of exchange and trust. Her extensive research in international archivesincluding a vast cache of merchants’ letters written between 1704 and 1746reveals a more nuanced view of the business relations between Jews and non-Jews across the Mediterranean, Atlantic Europe, and the Indian Ocean than ever before.
The book argues that cross-cultural trade was predicated on and generated familiarity among strangers, but could coexist easily with religious prejudice. It analyzes instances in which business cooperation among coreligionists and between strangers relied on language, customary norms, and social networks more than the progressive rise of state and legal institutions.
|Publisher:||Yale University Press|
|Product dimensions:||9.00(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Francesca Trivellato is Frederick W. Hilles Professor of History at Yale University.
Table of Contents
Note on Terminology and Units of Measurement ix
1 Diasporic Families and the Making of a Business Partnership 21
2 Livorno and the Western Sephardic Diaspora 43
3 A New City, a New Society? Livorno, the Jewish Nation, and Communitarian Cosmopolitanism 70
4 Between State Commercial Power and Trading Diasporas: Sephardim in the Mediterranean 102
5 Marriage, Dowry, Inheritance, and Types of Commercial Association 132
6 Commission Agency, Economic Information, and the Legal and Social Foundations of Business Cooperation 153
7 Cross-Cultural Trade and the Etiquette of Merchants' Letters 177
8 Ergas and Silvera's Heterogeneous Trading Networks 194
9 The Exchange of Mediterranean Coral and Indian Diamonds 224
10 The "Big Diamond Affair": Merchants on Trial 251
What People are Saying About This
One could not find a better example of the marriage between theory and practice, secondary and primary literature.—John A. Marino, University of California, San Diego
Trivellato’s stunningly well-researched and theoretically sophisticated study of Sephardic merchants in the free-port of Livorno reveals how they made deals not just with other Jews but all varieties of Christians across Europe and even Hindus in India. How was it possible to bridge these formidable religious and ethnic barriers? She offers 'communitarian cosmopolitanism' as a new and promising model for understanding cross-cultural economic ties. This book will be a benchmark for future work in the social history of early modern business.—Edward Muir, author of The Culture Wars of the Late Renaissance: Skeptics, Libertines, and Opera
This book is certainly important, the kind that appears once every few years, if that. It is the best book on cross-cultural trade since Philip Curtin invented the field more than two decades ago.—Steven Epstein, University of Kansas
This is a superb and sophisticated book on the Sephardi merchants of Livorno in the early modern period. An example of global history writing at its best, it illuminates deftly and with great nuance the complexities of diasporic networks and cross-cultural trade.—Aron Rodrigue, Stanford University
The Familiarity of Strangers offers ground-breaking perspectives on social networks and the market, the culture of trust, the history of Sephardic Jews, and the global reach of early modern commerce. It successfully challenges our stereotypes about capitalism, rational choice, cosmopolitanism, and the role of kin in commercial life. With access to archives in numerous countries, it offers an exciting and new approach to the interaction of culture and economic life.—Margaret C. Jacob, University of California, Los Angeles