Juifs de Livourne, Italiens de Lisbonne et hindous de Goa: Réseaux marchands et échanges culturels à l’époque moderne
This essay attempts to delineate a network approach to the study of cross-cultural trade in the Early Modern period. To do so, the author borrows from the British tradition of network analysis – understood in analytical rather than mathematical terms – and the works of Fredrik Barth. In the context of current debates on “trading diasporas” and “merchant networks”, a network approach has three invaluable advantages. It allows historians to analyze inter-group (rather than intragroup) relations, and thus overcome a limitation common to both anthropological and economic approaches. Moreover, it narrows the gap that divides anthropological studies (focused on the internal organization of trading diasporas and the role of cultural norms) and a rational theory understanding of merchant coalitions as the product of self-interested individual actions. Finally, because it is micro-analytical, a network approach allows historians to examine the workings of specific informal networks that traversed commonly defined geographical, political and cultural areas, and thus complicates our understanding of supposedly linear macro-phenomena. The operational validity of such an approach, based on business correspondence, is tested using a case study concerning the Indo-Portuguese (rather than the Anglo-Dutch) branch of Mediterranean coral and Indian diamond exchanges. Jews of Leghorn, Amsterdam and London were connected with the Italian merchants of Lisbon and a Hindu caste of Goa. This informal network remained vital until at least the 1730s.
Trivellato, Francesca, “Juifs de Livourne, Italiens de Lisbonne et hindous de Goa: Réseaux marchands et échanges culturels à l’époque moderne,” Annales: H.S.S., 58, no. 3 (2003): 581-603. Selected as one of 14 chapters published in Annales since 1946 for a virtual collection titled “Les Annales et l’histoire à l’échelle mondiale.” Open access: https://www.cairn.info/revue-annales-2003-3-page-581.htm