Inaugural Workshop

Nantes, 20-22 February 2018

The Inaugural Workshop of the Focus Area "The Social Life of Commercial Trust: Comparative Historical Perspectives from Asia, Africa and Europe, 1600-1950", will take place at the Nantes Institute for Advanced Study.

The conveners are Prof. Lakshmi Subramanian (Centre for Studies in Social Sciences) and Prof. Yannick Lemarchand (University of Nantes).


The first and inaugural IEARN workshop (February 2018) on The Social Life of commercial trust: Comparative historical perspectives from Asia, Aria and Europe, 1600-1950 set a useful platform to probe new questions and approaches for understanding the salience and workings of trust as a conceptual device and as a practice in commercial transactions in the early modern and modern period. The importance of connected history approaches that emphasize the dense web of linkages between large areas of the world, the role of law stressed by the key note speaker Maria Fusaro was balanced by the relevance of regional approaches to economic experiences. The range of presentations on merchant networks, legal regimes across Asia, Africa and Europe helped revisit the larger question of capitalism in the singular, on the nature of sources and archives and on shared methodologies for studying trans-national business entities through the conceptual lens of trust and reciprocity. The group agreed that the next workshop could take the questions further and add to the existing palette, concerns about law and custom especially in the context of trust breakdown and deficit, focusing on actual concepts and technologies of trust like accounting for example.

It is with this intention that the second of the IEARN workshops is being planned around the theme Technologies of trust: Law, Custom and Procedure in historical and comparative perspective. (see



Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Simone Weil Amphitheatre, ground floor

18.00-20.00     Welcome Address

                        > Matthieu FORLODOU, General Scientific Assistant at the IAS-Nantes

                        Presentation of the IEARN Network

                        > Lakshmi SUBRAMANIAN, Convener and Associate Fellow of the IAS-Nantes

                        Introducing the speaker

                        Public Lecture

                        > Maria FUSARO, Professor in Early Modern Social and Economy History, University of Exeter, UK

                        Global History and Maritime History: the Entanglement of Legal and Economic Perspectives


20.30-22.30     Dinner



Wednesday, 21 February 2018


9.00-9.15        Welcome address

                       > Samuel JUBE, Director of the IAS-Nantes

                       > Yannick LEMARCHAND

                       Few Words About Nantes

                       > Lakshmi SUBRAMANIAN

9.15-10.30      Academic Session I: Merchant Economies and Communities

                                                          Chair: Yannick LEMARCHAND

                       > Pierre GERVAIS

                       Is it Useful to Conceptualize the Age of Commerce in Europe as a Particular Political Economy?

                       A Few Starting Points for Further Inquiry

                       >  CISSE Chikouna

                       Trust in the Jula diaspora in West Africa (17th-20th Centuries)

                       > Santanu SENGUPTA

                       Tools of Negotiation: Trust and Reciprocity in the Armenian Mercantile Network


10.30-10.45    Tea/Coffee Break

11.00-12.00    Academic Session II: Empires, Merchant Networks and Legal Regimes

                                                          Chair: Scott LEVI

                       > Farhat HASAN

                       The Merchant Firms and the Legal Order in Early Modern South Asia:

                        State, Corporate Groups and Legal Pluralism in Mughal Empire

                       > Mitch FRAAS

                       The Importance of Form: Global Record-Keeping in the Early Modern World


12.00-14.00    Lunch

14.00-15.15    Academic Session III: Technologies of Trust in Comparative Perspective

                                                          Chair: Maria FUSARO

                       > Arnaud BARTOLOMEI

                       The Foundations of Trust Relations among Merchants (France-Europe, 18th-19th Centuries):

                       The Benefits of a Quantitative Analysis of Private Correspondence

                       > Cheryl MCWATTERS

                       Le Journal de Jean-Baptiste Lemasne (1724-1725):

                       Navigating Cultural and Trading Norms

                       > Scott LEVI

                       Indian Merchants in 17th-Century Russia: What Happens When Trust Fails


19.30-22.30    Dinner



Thursday, 22 February 2018


10.00-11.00     Academic Session IV: Managing Financial Risks: Trust as Practice in India and Europe

                                                          Chair: Farhat HASAN

                       > Maria FUSARO

                       Merchants’ Reputation and Risk Management: An Alternative View on Maritime Trade

                       > Nadia MATRINGE

                       Ratio pecuniam parit. Accounting and the Making of Financial Markets in the Early Modern Age


11.00-11.30    Tea/Coffee Break

11.30-12.30    Academic Session V: Credit, Law and Informality in Colonial and Post-Colonial India

                                                          Chair: Cheryl MCWATTERS


                       > Lakshmi SUBRAMANIAN

                       Languages of Trust: Discourse, Institutions and Practice in India 1750-1850

                       > Marina MARTIN (indisposed)

                       Hundi in the Dock:

                       The South Asian Indigenous Financial System Hundi/Hawala and the Law since the 1850s

                       > Raman MAHADEVAN

                       An Appraisal of a Non-European Business Model:

                       The Case of the South India-Based Chettiars’ Overseas Credit and Trading Network


12.30-14.00    Lunch

14.00-16.00    Rounding-up Session

                                                          Chair: Maria FUSARO and Pierre GERVAIS

                       > Yannick LEMARCHAND

                       Comments and Questions

                       Open Discussion



BARTOLOMEI ARNAUD, Associate Professor, University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis (France)

CISSÉ CHIKOUNA, Associate Professor, University of Cocody-Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire)

FRAAS MITCH, Curator, University of Pennsylvania, Kislak Center for Special collections (USA)

FUSARO MARIA, Professor in Early Modern Social and Economy History, University of Exeter (UK)

GERVAIS PIERRE, Professor, University Sorbonne-Nouvelle Paris 3 (France)

HASAN FARHAT, Professor of History, University of Delhi (India)

LEMARCHAND YANNICK, Professor Emeritus, University of Nantes (France)

LEVI SCOTT, Associate Professor, Ohio State University (USA)

MAHADEVAN RAMAN, Independent Researcher, Chennai and Bangalore (India)

MARTIN MARINA, Research Fellow, University of Frankfurt (Germany) (indisposed)

MATRINGE NADIA, Associate Researcher, LSE (UK) - ENS Paris (France)

MCWATTERS CHERYL, Professor, University of Ottawa (Canada)

SENGUPTA SANTANU, Assistant Professor, doctoral student, Calcutta University and CSSSC (India)

SUBRAMANIAN LAKSHMI, Professor, CSSSC, Calcutta (India)