Geographies of Trade and Conceptions of Economic Space: Comparing Genoese and Geniza Merchants in the Twelfth Century


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships




The geography of the medieval world is not our geography. Recent work defined by seas and oceans at best replaces one modern spatial construct, the nation, by imposing another, while concrete regionality is scarcely examined. This study uses mercantile records to explore region as a practical problem, to see geography as experienced by those whose profession made them use and consider the connections between places. It compares Genoese and Geniza merchants, whose activities intersected across the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and whose records are the richest medieval sources. The project uncovers the complex interplay of business practice, geography, infrastructures, political control, and definitions of community that created practical and imaginative regions for medieval traders.