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The “Book of Will” of Petrus Woskan (1680-1751): Some Insights into the Global Commercial Network of the Armenians in the Indian Ocean

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This paper argues that “insider” material, preserved by the Armenians in the archives of the cathedral in New Julfa presents, by virtue of its logic, a one-sided, consensual picture. “Outsider” material contests this view and highlights the underlying conflicts of interest that even existed among the core members of the network. The picture that emerges from this study points to a more dynamic, complex structure in which the multiple interests of individual members of family firms, kin, and community members in different capacities were grafted into one. Loopholes in the system were visible as early as the 1720s, long before the center at New Julfa collapsed. Les archives arméniennes ont été conservées dans la cathédrale de la Nouvelle Julfa. Ces sources “internes” présentent, selon nous, une image partiale de consensus. L'examen minutieux des sources “externes” par contre fait ressortir des conflits d'intérêts même entre les grands négociants du réseau arménien. Ces documents-là attestent des structures complexes plus dynamiques. Dans ce cadre s'inscrivaient les multiples intérêts des membres individuels de la firma familiale, des parents, et des membres de la communauté. Et les faiblesses du système sont déjà perceptibles dans les années vingt du XVIIème siècle, bien avant l'effondrement de son centre à la Nouvelle Julfa.

Affiliations: 1: International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, and Kern Institute: Dept. of Indian and Tibetan Studies, Leiden University, The Netherlands;, Email:


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