Stockholm Anthropology Roundtable
Brokers and the Shaping of Transnational Markets

The Roundtable aims to highlight and discuss the significance of brokers in facilitating social connections, establishing borders, and shaping contemporary transnational markets. The broker is a classic figure in the history of social anthropology, most notably through the
influential work of Eric Wolf and Clifford Geertz, who highlighted the role of cultural and political brokers in mediating between the village and the metropole in the early post-colonial era. In more recent years, the broker has largely disappeared from anthropology as an object of analytical concern, although certainly remaining present in empirical terms. In this Roundtable, we suggest that there is great potential in returning to the broker as a figure of analytical concern. Moving beyond dichotomies such as those between village and nation, or local and global, we suggest that the broker is an ethnographic and methodological starting point for conceptualizing transnational markets and economies. As such, we understand the position of the broker as an entry-point into broader systems of brokerage, which cannot be conceptualized a priori. Operating at the “interfaces” of different worldviews and knowledge systems, the importance of brokers in negotiating roles, relationships, and representations in interlinked and networked social realities merits further attention.

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