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The Same but Different?

Inter-cultural Trade and the Sephardim, 1595-1640

Series:

Jessica Roitman

Using cutting-edge theory regarding trade networks and diaspora, this study challenges the historiographical argument that the Sephardim, and indeed, a variety of religio-ethnic groups, achieved their commercial success by relying on geographically dispersed family members and fellow ethnics. The book’s findings challenge the reigning understanding that commercial success stemmed from endogamous business relationships and socio-cultural insularity. The book demonstrates that the most successful Sephardic merchants of early seventeenth century Amsterdam built their fortunes not thanks to familial or diasporic connections, but through “loose ties,” economic networks comprised of non-Sephardim. Focusing on three of the most prominent Sephardic merchants in Amsterdam, and a random sampling of other Sephardi merchants, the book reveals a multi-ethnic and multi-religious trade network of non-Jewish merchants.
No Access

The Price You Pay

Choosing Family, Friends, and Familiarity over Freedom in the Leeward Islands, 1835–1863

Jessica V. Roitman

Planters and colonial officials throughout the Caribbean feared the consequences of emancipation in the nineteenth century, especially after the British abolished slavery in 1834. Concerns were particularly strong among the planters and colonial officials of the Dutch Leeward islands of St. Maarten, Saba, and St. Eustatius, as their geographical location left them vulnerable to the decisions of neighboring imperial powers. As early as 1825, when British law prohibited the extradition of foreign runaway slaves from their colonies, freedom was just a short boat ride away for the enslaved population of the Dutch islands, leading to worries that their islands would quickly become depopulated of their laborers. These fears were ultimately unfounded, however. As this article shows, the majority of slaves of the Dutch Leeward islands chose to either stay home or, after sojourning in another place, decided to return to their homes.

Open Access

Jessica Vance Roitman

Oppression, exclusion, and alliance are themes common in frontier zones like Suriname where cultures come into contact, collide, and connect. This article shows how Suriname functioned as a frontier not only between European empires but also between cultures and peoples. The meetings, clashes, and exchanges between Jews and Amerindians are a lens through which to analyze this zone of encounter. This relationship also illustrates the dynamics at play on the frontiers of nation and empire. These are places where peoples who are “in between” such as the Portuguese Jews and Amerindians broker between two cultures and two worldviews.

Open Access

Series:

Gert Oostindie and Jessica V. Roitman

Open Access

Series:

Gert Oostindie and Jessica V. Roitman

Open Access

Series:

Gert Oostindie and Jessica V. Roitman

Open Access

Series:

Gert Oostindie and Jessica V. Roitman