Compradors to Cosmopolitans? The Historiographical Fortunes of Merchants in Eastern Mediterranean Ports
Title: Compradors to Cosmopolitans? The Historiographical Fortunes of Merchants in Eastern Mediterranean Ports
Author: GEKAS, Athanasios
Publisher: European University Institute
Series/Number: EUI MWP; 2008/29
This paper examines a complex and occasionally much debated issue: whether class analysis is a suitable analytical tool when studying the history of the merchant groups that developed in Eastern Mediterranean ports in the second half of the nineteenthcentury or whether historians, taking note of the ethnic composition of these merchant groups (primarily Greeks, Jews, and Armenians, but in some instances, also, both Muslim and Christian Arabs) should rely on the language and approaches of (what we can broadly define as ) communitarian studies. The paper aims both to provide a broad coverage of the historiographical debate on these issues and to offer some insights into avenues worth exploring in future research. The first part concentrates on a critical discussion of approaches that can broadly be considered as privileging the category of class; the second part addresses some of the issues of subjectivity, identity and values that have recently engaged the attention of historians. The paper concludes but does not resolve with the issue whether historians can accommodate in their interpretation both class and cosmopolitanism as analytical tools for studying the history of Eastern Mediterranean ports (assuming that cosmopolitanism is an analytical tool).
Subject: Class; bourgeoisie; cosmopolitanism; merchants; Eastern Mediterranean; port cities; nineteenth century
Type of Access: openAccess