Jewish Commercial Cultures in Global Perspective


* Workshop limited to workshop participants. To audit, please contact us at

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Time Description
09:00–10:00 Breakfast
10:00–10:15 Welcome & Opening Remarks (Paris Papamichos-Chronakis & Constanze Kolbe)
10:15–11:45 Dogwood Room, IMU
Panel I: Legal regimes and Trade Litigation
Discussant: Francesca Trivellato, Yale University
  Jessica Marglin: Commercial Integration through Law: Jews and Notarization in Moroccan Sharī‘a Courts
  Constanze Kolbe: The Business of Religion: Etrogim Trade and Litigation in the Nineteenth Century Adriatic
  Alyssa Reiman: Commerce in the Courts: Italian Jews and the Consular Court System in Nineteenth Century Egypt
  Hanna Sonkajärvi: Commercial Litigation between Alsatian-Jewish Merchants and Non-Jewish Merchants in the Mid-Nineteenth Century Brazil
12:00–01:15 Lunch
01:30–03:00 Dogwood Room, IMU
Panel II: Cross National Networks, Marketing and Consumption
Discussant: Derek Penslar, University of Toronto
  Cornelia Aust: Jewish, Polish, European: Bankers and Entrepreneurs at the Mid-Nineteenth Century: A Warsaw Perspective
  Kevin D. Goldberg: Making Jewish Wine in Central Europe
  Daniel M. Rosenthal: Carmel in the Shtetl: Palestinian Wine and the Marketing of Zionist Ideology in Eastern Europe, 1895-1939
03:15–04:45 Dogwood Room, IMU
Panel III: Mobility across and beyond the Eastern Mediterranean
Discussant: Matthias Lehmann, UC Irvine
  Ariane Wessel: Social Advancement in the period of Globalization. Jewish Grain Traders at the Berlin Commodity Exchange 1860-1914
  Evangelia Matthopoulou: Jewish commercial practices in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1933-1939
  Julia Phillips Cohen: Cosmopolitans for Empire: Ottoman Jews & Political Economy from the Margins
05:30–07:00 Dogwood Room, IMU
Keynote speech by Francesca Trivellato (Yale University)
Self-Interest, "Difference," and the Making of Europe's Commercial Society: Jewish-Christian Credit Relations before Emancipation
07:00-07:30 Reception (open to public, Oak Room)
07:30-09:00 Dinner

* Workshop limited to workshop participants. To audit, please contact us at

Time Description
08:00-08:55 Breakfast
09:00–10:30 Dogwood Room, IMU
Panel IV: Realigning identities
Discussant: Jonathan Karp, SUNY Binghamton
  Paris Papamichos-Chronakis: Merchants who Feared the Nation. Jewish Commercial Politics during the Balkan Wars, 1912-1913
  Nadia Zysman: Factory, Workshop and Homework: A Spatial Dimension of Labor Flexibility Among Jewish Migrants in the Early Twentieth-Century Buenos Aires
  Stephanie Seketa: Economic Nationalism and the Making of a “British” Corporation: J. Lyons versus Thomas Lipton in WWI Britain
10:45-12:15 Dogwood Room, IMU
Panel V: Marginality
Discussant: Matthias Lehmann, UC Irvine
  Devi Mays: Becoming Illegal: Sephardi Jews in the Transnational Opium Trade
  Niki Lefebvre: “The Other Essential Job of War": Jewish American Merchants and the European Refugee Crisis after the Anschluss
12:15-01:15 Lunch
01:30–03:00 Dogwood Room, IMU
Roundtable discussion
Francesca Trivellato, Yale; Matthias Lehmann, UC Irvine; Jonathan Karp, SUNY; Derek Penslar, University of Toronto; Mirjam Zadoff, IU
Fransesca Trivellato

Francesca Trivellato

Frederick W. Hilles Professor of History, Yale University

Francesca Trivellato is a social and economic historian of early modern continental Europe and the Mediterranean with an interest on the history of cross-cultural commercial networks and the history of credit. Her Familiarity of Strangers: The Sephardic Diaspora, Livorno, and Cross-Cultural Trade in the Early Modern Period (Yale, 2009) revealed a complex world of business relations and networks of trust between Jews and non-Jews across the Mediterranean, Atlantic Europe and the Indian Ocean built around language, customary norms and social networks.


Derek J. Penslar

Stanley Lewis Professor of Modern Israel Studies, University of Oxford; and Samuel Zacks Professor of European Jewish History, University of Toronto

Derek Penslar specializes in the history of modern European Jewry, Zionism and the state of Israel. His Shylock’s Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe (Berkeley, 2001) tells the story of Jewish perceptions of commerce and money trade and the effects of such perceptions on modern Jewish identity from the eighteenth to the mid-twentieth century.


Jonathan Karp

Associate Professor, State University of New York at Binghampton

Jonathan Karp’s scholarly interests center on the roles that Jews have played as both economic and cultural middlemen, that is to say, as transmitters, translators, interpreters and entrepreneurs in the realms of commerce and culture. He addresses the basic question of how, in recent centuries, Jews have adapted to the modernizing circumstances of capitalism and how they perceived themselves and were perceived by others as economic actors. His first monograph, The Politics of Jewish Commerce (Cambridge University Press, 2008), examines shifting ideological constructions of the Jews as commercial agents in the literature of European political economy from the middle of the seventeenth to the middle of the nineteenth centuries‏.


Matthias Lehmann

Associate Professor and Teller Family Chair in Jewish History, University of California at Irvine

Matthias Lehmann is a historian of early modern and modern Jewish history with a special interest in the history of the Spanish Jews and the Sephardi diaspora in the Mediterranean world. In his latest book, Emissaries from the Holy Land (Stanford, 2014), he looks at rabbinic networks and networks of support for the Jewish communities of Palestine in the Sephardi diaspora prior to the advent of European and European-Jewish international organizations in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Call for Papers

The Borns Jewish Studies Program and the Department of History at Indiana University, Bloomington, invite proposals for papers to be presented at a workshop on Jewish commercial cultures in global perspective. The workshop will take place in October, 11-12, 2015 and will feature new research on Jews and commerce in the period in the period in the Mediterranean, Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. We seek paper proposals specifically from junior scholars (advance PhD, post-doctoral and early career historians) whose work will be engaged by established Jewish, economic, and global historians participating as keynote speakers, panel discussants and roundtable participants.

The workshop aims to introduce the notion of “Jewish commercial cultures” to discussions about networks, mobility, empires, migration and material life. We welcome especially proposals that examine Jewish merchants beyond trading diaspora frameworks, the overly determining contexts of “family” and “community”, or discuss their stereotypical representations in non-Jewish and anti-Jewish discourses. This includes approaches that view Jewish merchants anew as commercial citizens and legal agents in various regional and global settings from the early 18th- to the mid-20th centuries, a period shaped by the interrelated processes of an expanding modern culture (and technology) of commerce and the expansion and retraction of western and non-western empires.

Highlighting the multiple ‘spatialities’ and mobilities of Jewish merchants, the workshop will bring Jewish, trans-local and Global history into dialogue with one another. We welcome approaches that move beyond nation-state frameworks and explore urban, trans-national and/or trans-imperial spaces as well as borderlands and oceans.

Topics for consideration may include:

  • Intra- and cross-ethnic networks and relations and commercial litigation
  • Formation and the cultural meanings of trust between sub-Jewish and Jewish-gentile business networks
  • Epistolary and other communicative practices
  • The interplay between Jewish merchants and economic, communal, urban and national institutions
  • The changing legal status and Jewish institutional participation in chambers of commerce, stock exchanges, commercial tribunals, etc.
  • The formation of Jewish business elites
  • The overlap of Jewish urban, communal and commercial networks and the impact of commerce on urban culture such as the relation between the commercial sphere and the public sphere.
  • The link between professional, ethnic and cosmopolitan identities in national, colonial, and imperial settings Commerce, acculturation and Jewish emancipation

The workshop will bring together 12 junior scholars of history and related disciplines (advanced graduate students, postdocs, and assistant professors (or equivalent). Graduate students should be ABD (candidates, who have completed all their qualifying PhD exams), should have completed research and be in the process of writing their dissertation.

The workshop will take place over two days at Indiana University, Bloomington and feature an opening keynote address by Professor Francesca Trivellato (Yale University). Panel commentators and round-table discussants will include Professor Derek Penslar (University of Toronto / Oxford University), Professor Jonathan Karp (SUNY Binghamton), Professor Matthias Lehmann (University of California, Irvine) as well as several Indiana University faculty working on Jewish, Atlantic and Global History, such as Professors Pedro Machado and Mirjam Zadoff. Papers of 20-25 pages will be pre-circulated to allow maximum time during panel sessions for questions and discussion.

Proposals should include a maximum 500-word abstract explaining the paper’s main hypothesis, its innovations, and the sources used as well as a CV. Accommodation and meals will be covered for the selected participants. Funding toward travel expenses is available on a limited basis. For details, please indicate your interest in your proposal.

Please send the proposals to by March 15, 2015. Successful applicants will be notified by April 10, 2015.

This workshop is made possible with the generous support of the following Indiana University units:
Borns Jewish Studies Program; College Arts & Humanities Institute; Mellon Innovating International Research, Teaching & Collaboration grant from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research; Office of Vice President for International Affairs; College of Arts Sciences; College of Arts & Sciences Ostrom Grants Program; Ottoman & Modern Turkish Studies Chair; Institute for European Studies; Department of French & Italian; Center for the Study of Global Change; Department of International Studies,
and the Modern Greek Studies Association Initiative Grant.

Please send the proposals to by March 15, 2015. Successful applicants will be notified by April 10, 2015.

Dr. Paris Papamichos Chronakis, University of Illinois at Chicago

Constanze Kolbe, Indiana University, Bloomington

Prof. Pedro Machado, Indiana University, Bloomington

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