South Asia Institute
South Asia Institute

South Asia Seminar Series

Thu, February 28, 2008 | Meyerson Conference Room, WCH 4.118

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

The talk opens with a brief critique of various scales of historical analysis in Asian history – national histories, kingdom studies, area studies, ocean studies, language-based studies, family history and biography, and world history. We then ask how best to talk about the historical spice trade and its traders. I suggest that social network analysis works better than any of the scales considered. It has the virtue of working across oceans and between empires. It is tied to a particular person but not solely as biography. Several decades of social network analysis have generated specific and useful hypotheses, such as the importance of weak ties, degrees of separation, and varieties of faction. Material will be drawn from an eleventh century Jewish pepper trader's network of, subject of a chapter of my new book "When Asia was the World".

Sponsored by: South Asia Institute

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