Commodities, merchants, and refugees: Inter-Asian circulations and Afghan mobility

Marsden, Magnus (2020) Commodities, merchants, and refugees: Inter-Asian circulations and Afghan mobility. Global Networks, 20 (4). pp. 746-765. ISSN 1470-2266

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This article consists of an analysis of ethnographic material on Afghan trading networks involved in both the export of commodities from China to a variety of settings across Eurasia and the movement of ‘refugees’ from Afghanistan to Europe. Much recent work on trading networks has deployed the concept of trust to understand the functioning of such social formations. By contrast, in this article I assess the durability of Afghan networks in three ways. First, recognition of how they are polycentric and multi‐nodal. Second, how they are successful in transforming their collective aims and projects in changing shifting political and economic circumstances. Third, how they are made up of individuals able to switch their statuses and activities within trading networks over time. Furthermore, I argue that a focus on the precise ways in which traders entrust capital, people and commodities to one another, reveals the extent to which social and commercial relationships inside trading networks are frequently impermanent and pregnant with concerns about mistrust and contingency. Recognition of this suggests that scholars should focus on practices of entrustment rather than abstract notions of trust in their analyses of trading networks per se, as well as seek to understand the ways in which these practices enable actors to handle and address questions of contingency.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex Asia
Depositing User: Magnus Marsden
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2019 13:12
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2021 08:22

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