Book: Religion and Trade

YaleNews features works recently or soon to be published by members of the University community. Descriptions are based on material provided by the publishers. Authors of new books may forward publishers’ book descriptions to us by email.

YaleNews features works recently or soon to be published by members of the University community. Descriptions are based on material provided by the publishers. Authors of new books may forward publishers’ book descriptions to us by email.

Religion and Trade: Cross-Cultural Exchanges in World History, 1000-1900

Edited by Francesca Trivellato, the Frederick W. Hilles Professor of History; Leor Halevi, associate professor of history and professor of law at Vanderbilt University; and Catia Antunes, associate professor of early modern economic and social history at Leiden University

(Oxford University Press)

Although trade connects distant people and regions, bringing cultures closer together through the exchange of material goods and ideas, it has not always led to unity and harmony. From the era of the Crusades to the dawn of colonialism, exploitation and violence characterized many trading ventures, which required vessels and convoys to overcome technological obstacles and merchants to grapple with strange customs and manners in a foreign environment. Yet experienced traders and licensed brokers, as well as ordinary people, travelers, pilgrims, missionaries, and interlopers across the globe, concocted ways of bartering, securing credit, and establishing relationships with people who did not speak their language, wore different clothes, and worshipped other gods. 


“Religion and Trade” focuses on trade across religious boundaries around the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic and Indian Oceans during the second millennium. Written by an international team of scholars, the essays in this volume examine a wide range of commercial exchanges, from first encounters between strangers from different continents to everyday transactions between merchants who lived in the same city yet belonged to diverse groups. In order to broach the neglected subject of how the relationship between trade and religion developed historically, the authors consider a number of interrelated questions: When and where was religion invoked explicitly as part of commercial policies? How did religious norms affect the everyday conduct of trade? Why did economic imperatives, political goals, and legal institutions help sustain commercial exchanges across religious barriers in different times and places? When did trade between religious groups give way to more tolerant views of “the other” and when, by contrast, did it coexist with hostile images of those decried as “infidels”?

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