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Brokering EmpireTrans-Imperial Subjects between Venice and Istanbul$
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E. Natalie Rothman

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449079

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449079.001.0001

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Brokering Commerce or Making Friends?

Brokering Commerce or Making Friends?

(p.61) 2 Brokering Commerce or Making Friends?
Brokering Empire

E. Natalie Rothman

Cornell University Press

This chapter looks at the trials of unlicensed brokers heard by the tribunals of the brokers’ guild. By unpacking the arguments put forth by trans-imperial defendants and their accusers, it traces competing notions of what constituted foreignness and how it could be mediated (and mitigated) through brokerage. Brokers and merchants were linked through trans-imperial bonds of affect and patronage that followed neither juridical definitions of belonging nor the ethnic solidarity presupposed by much modern scholarship. The cases analyzed here underscores the embeddedness of the Venetian marketplace in other institutions and modalities of sociability. Whereas all brokerage had the potential of being confused with acts of friendship, collegiality, or patronage, it was specifically outsiders—trans-imperial subjects and other non-guild members—who were singled out for engaging in it.

Keywords:   unlicensed brokerage, brokers’ guild, trans-imperial subjects, Venetian marketplace, sociability, outsiders

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