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A Circulation Society, Reconsidered: Syrian Jewish Merchant Networks after the Exodus from Aleppo

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Anderson, Paul 


This article analyses the durability of transregional Syrian Jewish merchant networks through the 20th and early 21st centuries, when the centre of these trading networks shifted several times in response to economic transformations and political pressures. Migration patterns from Aleppo following the Ottoman collapse and the exodus after 1947 call for a modified conceptualisation of centres, peripheries and circulation from dominant approaches to merchant networks and circulation societies. Centres are generally thought of as the origin points of persons and goods – namely, women, religious specialists, and collateral-free credit – which circulate exclusively within the network, and peripheries as nodes which merely receive and depend on centres in these respects. I add to this by analysing central or critical nodes as those where different kinds of mobility interacted to inject new vitality into the networks. Peripheries are not only dependent nodes, but vital points of refuge and transition in times of duress. And beyond persons and credit, it is the circulation of aesthetic and ethical standards and name values that has helped to maintain the integrity of the network in a period of geographic reconfiguration.



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The Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies

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CBS Open Journals

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AHRC (via University of Sussex) (AH/V004999/1)
Arts and Humanities Research Council grant “Afterlives of Urban Muslim Asia: Alternative Imaginaries of Society and Polity” (AH/V004999/1).