Reviews

Contrasting with “insider” materials like those preserved by the Armenians in the archives of the cathedral in New Julfa, the author of this well-informed and innovative historical study demonstrates that “outsider” sources bring more substantial information about the conflicts of interest that did exist among the core members of Armenian merchant networks. Through the examination of the commercial network of Khoja Petrus Wolkan, who left New Julfa for Madras and eventually died at the latter place, Bh. Bhattacharya notably casts light on structures more complex and dynamic than usually depicted, in which multiple interests were grafted into one. On the basis of last wills and other legal documents of Armenians who lived in India in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, she shows that records preserved outside the confines of the community sometimes highlight aspects that “insider” records perhaps cannot. Conflicts between investors in New Julfa and agents in Madras, for instance, suggest that the reality was much more conflicting and dynamic that the consensual insider records would suggest. They also point to the difficulties involved in exercising social control in connection with long distance commerce.

The Redaction
CER: II-3.3.B-210