Marsden, Magnus and Anderson, Paul, eds. (2020) After trust (JOURNAL SPECIAL ISSUE). Global Networks, 20 (4). Wiley. ISBN 0000000000

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1. “Trust” has long been seen as critical to the success and durability of trading networks, and conceptualised as a positive moral sentiment that is embedded in shared kinship, ethnicity or friendship, or in shared frameworks of morality. Other recent studies of business communities suggest that the ability to work in settings characterised by pervasive mistrust is a key factor in the development of commercial acumen and determining success. This Special Issue argues that the focus on trust and mistrust, and the underlying concern with ethics and morality, obscure equally critical aspects that inform the durability of trading networks. It offers ethnographic accounts of different inter-Asian trading networks active in the city of Yiwu. One of China’s most dynamic and diverse ‘international trade cities’, Yiwu is home to the largest wholesale market of small commodities in the world, and attracts traders and merchants from across the planet; over 12,000 foreign traders are also resident in the city. The collected articles analyse the durability of these networks in relation to broader geopolitical processes and contexts, arguing that success often depends on the ability to negotiate geopolitical shifts and the faultlines of political identity. The articles trace traders’ efforts to create institutions that allow them to withstand geopolitical transformations. They also document the ability of trading networks to operate flexibly across different social fields, showing that resilience often depends on the ability to navigate and profit from shifting relations between economic, political and familial domains.

2. 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: Edited Book
Additional Information: Composite Special Issue record created for REF2021: Marsden, Magnus and Anderson, Paul (2020) Introduction to the special issue: after trust. Global Networks, 20 (4). pp. 697-707. ISSN 1470-2266 AND Marsden, Magnus (2020) Commodities, merchants, and refugees: Inter-Asian circulations and Afghan mobility. Global Networks, 20 (4). pp. 746-765. ISSN 1470-2266
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
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Depositing User: Jennifer Whitehead
Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2021 15:13
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2023 13:40

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Trust, Global Traders and Cheap Commodities in a Chinese International City (TRODITIES)G1723EUROPEAN UNION669132