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From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: The Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa

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Drawing on a rich trove of documents, including correspondence not seen for 300 years, this study explores the emergence and growth of a remarkable global trade network operated by Armenian silk merchants from a small outpost in the Persian Empire. Based in New Julfa, Isfahan, in what is now Iran, these merchants operated a network of commercial settlements that stretched Drawing on a rich trove of documents, including correspondence not seen for 300 years, this study explores the emergence and growth of a remarkable global trade network operated by Armenian silk merchants from a small outpost in the Persian Empire. Based in New Julfa, Isfahan, in what is now Iran, these merchants operated a network of commercial settlements that stretched from London and Amsterdam to Manila and Acapulco. The New Julfan Armenians were the only Eurasian community that was able to operate simultaneously and successfully in all the major empires of the early modern world—both land-based Asian empires and the emerging sea-borne empires—astonishingly without the benefits of an imperial network and state that accompanied and facilitated European mercantile expansion during the same period. This book brings to light for the first time the trans-imperial cosmopolitan world of the New Julfans. Among other topics, it explores the effects of long distance trade on the organization of community life, the ethos of trust and cooperation that existed among merchants, and the importance of information networks and communication in the operation of early modern mercantile communities.


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Drawing on a rich trove of documents, including correspondence not seen for 300 years, this study explores the emergence and growth of a remarkable global trade network operated by Armenian silk merchants from a small outpost in the Persian Empire. Based in New Julfa, Isfahan, in what is now Iran, these merchants operated a network of commercial settlements that stretched Drawing on a rich trove of documents, including correspondence not seen for 300 years, this study explores the emergence and growth of a remarkable global trade network operated by Armenian silk merchants from a small outpost in the Persian Empire. Based in New Julfa, Isfahan, in what is now Iran, these merchants operated a network of commercial settlements that stretched from London and Amsterdam to Manila and Acapulco. The New Julfan Armenians were the only Eurasian community that was able to operate simultaneously and successfully in all the major empires of the early modern world—both land-based Asian empires and the emerging sea-borne empires—astonishingly without the benefits of an imperial network and state that accompanied and facilitated European mercantile expansion during the same period. This book brings to light for the first time the trans-imperial cosmopolitan world of the New Julfans. Among other topics, it explores the effects of long distance trade on the organization of community life, the ethos of trust and cooperation that existed among merchants, and the importance of information networks and communication in the operation of early modern mercantile communities.

34 review for From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: The Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa

  1. 4 out of 5

    Noric Dilanchian

    Superb, original, authoritive, ground breaking.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Pmacdougald

    I'd normally give this book a four, but I felt I should give it a boost due to all the needlessly harsh one-star reviews. This is an interesting and capably executed study of the New Julfan Armenians' early modern global trading network. While the primary focus of Aslanian's book is the reconstruction of the New Julfan network, based on some truly impressive archival treasure that he's dug up (of which he is rightfully proud), the book by no means lacks a "coherent analytical frame" or theory or I'd normally give this book a four, but I felt I should give it a boost due to all the needlessly harsh one-star reviews. This is an interesting and capably executed study of the New Julfan Armenians' early modern global trading network. While the primary focus of Aslanian's book is the reconstruction of the New Julfan network, based on some truly impressive archival treasure that he's dug up (of which he is rightfully proud), the book by no means lacks a "coherent analytical frame" or theory or whatever the other criticisms are. The first half of the book reconstructs the Julfan network, and the second half provides a theoretical analysis. While Aslanian draws heavily on other scholars' theory (who doesn't?), he also draws some original conclusions and offers modifications to the theories he's deploying. Plenty of these have wider application outside the narrow study of Julfa, Armenian merchants, or diasporic communities. For instance, Aslanian argues, following Claude Markovits, that the concept of "trade diaspora," popular in world history, is analytically fuzzy and that early-modern trade networks are better understood as "circulation societies," organized through nodal centers & clusters of dispersed nodes, which circulate men, goods, credit, and, most importantly, information. Aslanian considers the circulation of information especially important, as not only did merchants require information about prices in different trading centers, but that the circulation of reputational information about other network participants was crucial for enforcing group behavioral norms and fostering trust in a global, long-distance network in the absence of modern trust-building institutions like courts. Embedding this insight within Bourdieu et al's "social capital" theory, Aslanian argues that adherence to group norms within the Julfan network thus became the rationally self-interested move of all network members, challenging previous vague explanations of Armenian group solidarity as a function of shared ethnic, cultural, or religious identity. Aslanian also compares the Julfan network to similar early modern trade networks, the Multani Indians and Sephardic Jews, to draw some further theoretical insights. It's not exactly Braudel, but well worth reading, and Aslanian is pretty well organized and writes clearly, so you can get most of what he's on about just from reading the preface and conclusion.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nairi Simitian

    The emerging portrait lacks a coherent analytical framework; this is largely a descriptive (i.e. historical) book bogged down by (often) tangential detail. It's not a book of ideas and will not change one looks at history. The level of research is commendable. I hoped it would be more wide-reaching in its reconstruction of an important mercantile minority in Iran.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Arash

    Enjoyed reading him on social media than in the world history class. Not a difficult grader, but anything interesting he has to say is lost in the footnotes used as a mask for erudition. If you are into theory or original analysis, avoid this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    R

    Un trabajo muy interesante y sobre todo muy necesario sobre los armenios de Julfa y su red comercial.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Avi

    Boring like an old tombstone with endless academic (ie; non-germane) footnotes.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anubhav Garg

  8. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah Barham

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Staaf

  11. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Tahmazyan

  12. 4 out of 5

    William Kelly

  13. 5 out of 5

    Fatma Erbaş

  14. 5 out of 5

    Asdeghik

  15. 5 out of 5

    Vartan Balassanian

  16. 5 out of 5

    Eric

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shayan

  18. 4 out of 5

    Hasmik

  19. 4 out of 5

    Yury Lyandres

  20. 4 out of 5

    Best Sources

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kurosh

  22. 4 out of 5

    Valentina Mazloumian

  23. 4 out of 5

    eoin

  24. 4 out of 5

    Treasa

  25. 5 out of 5

    LB Johnson

  26. 4 out of 5

    Haigaram

  27. 5 out of 5

    unperspicacious

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ahmed

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ronan Lyons

  30. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Winfield

  31. 5 out of 5

    DJ Yossarian

  32. 4 out of 5

    Annie

  33. 5 out of 5

    Sean

  34. 4 out of 5

    Adena

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