Introduction: Commercial cosmopolitanism? Cross- cultural objects, spaces, and institutions in the early modern world

Felicia Gottmann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscript

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Contact zones and the linked concepts of brokerage, go-betweens, hybridity, and transculturation have been amongst the most fertile and innovative fields of study in recent years. However, since the classic works by Polanyi and Curtin, the focus has been less on commercial interactions and more commonly on the unequal power relations in imperial and colonial regimes and on the brokerage involved in knowledge production. This volume reintroduces economic history to the study of contact zones. It explores the wide variety of commercial cosmopolitan practices that arose from the global economic entanglements of the early modern era which provided robust alternatives to the universalising western imperial model of the later period. In the early modern era states, societies, and individuals across the globe reacted with a mixture of commercial idealism and commercial anxiety to the hitherto unprecedented levels of economic interconnectedness, seeking at once to exploit new opportunities for growth whilst limiting its disruptive effects. Deploying a number of interdisciplinary methodologies, the kind of ‘methodological cosmopolitanism’ that Ulrich Beck has called for, we provide agency-centred evaluations of the risks and opportunities inherent in the ambiguous role of the cosmopolitan, who, often playing on and mobilising a number of identities, operated in between and outside of different established legal, social, and cultural systems. This introduction sets out these different methodologies and explains the volume’s framework and definitions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCommercial Cosmopolitanism?
Subtitle of host publicationCross-Cultural Objects, Spaces, and Institutions in the Early Modern World
EditorsFelicia Gottmann
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781000353709
ISBN (Print)9780367464615
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2021

Publication series

NamePolitical Economies of Capitalism, 1600-1850
PublisherTaylor & Francis


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