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Aṣḥābunā l-tujjār—Our Associates, the Merchants: Non-Jewish Business Partners of the Cairo Geniza’s India Traders

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Chapter Summary

The task of debating the context of Indian Ocean studies has become easier to the publication of the first four volumes of Goitein's much-awaited "India Book", which make a significant part of the Geniza documentary corpus relating to the so-called India trade readily accessible in English, Hebrew, and the original Judaeo-Arabic. One of the many topics illuminated by the documentary corpus of the "India Book" is the formation of commercial networks across denominational, ethnic, linguistic, and geographical boundaries in the inter-regional arena extending from the Straits of Malacca to Cairo. In Goitein's words, this material reveals "an astonishing degree of interdenominational cooperation matched by an almost complete absence of animosity against other communities". "India Book" documents show that Jewish traders, some living along the Indian Ocean littoral and others traveling there from the Mediterranean, mobilized a variety of Jewish and non-Jewish partners in the wider western Indian Ocean world.

Keywords: Cairo; Geniza documents; Goitein; India trade; non-Jewish partners



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