07 Apr 2016

Reading Magnus Marsden: Trading Worlds. Afghan Merchants Across Modern Frontiers

CARG #04 – fourth session of the Contemporary Anthropology Reading Group

For the fourth session of our reading group we are reading Magnus Marsden’s book on the lives of Afghan traders in Central Asia, Russia, London, and elsewhere.

Marsden, Magnus. 2015. Trading Worlds. Afghan Merchants Across Modern Froentiers. London: Hurst & Company.

Description from Hurst Publishers:

Trading Worlds is an anthropological study of a little understood yet rapidly expanding global trading diaspora, namely the Afghan merchants of Afghanistan, Central Asia and Europe. It contests one-sided images that depict traders from this and other conflict regions as immoral profiteers, the cronies of warlords or international drug smugglers. It shows, rather, the active role these merchants play in an ever-more globalised political economy. Afghan merchants, the author demonstrates, forge and occupy critical economic niches, both at home and abroad: from the Persian Gulf to Central Asia, to the ports of the Black Sea; and in global cities such as Istanbul, Moscow and London, the traders’ activities are shaping the material and cultural lives of the diverse populations among whom they live.

Through an exploration of the life histories, trading activities and everyday experiences of these mobile merchants, Magnus Marsden shows that traders’ worlds are informed by complex forms of knowledge, skill, ethical sensibility, and long-lasting human relationships that often cut across and dissolve boundaries of nation, ethnicity, religion and ideology.

Contact:
Highland Asia Research Group
LMU, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oettingenstr. 67
80538 Munich, Germany

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