Proposal preview

Banking before banks: financial markets, intermediaries and networks in a global historical perspective


Organizers & Chairs (also presenting papers):
Juliette Levy (University of California, Riverside)
Christiaan van Bochove (Radboud University)
Discussant: Gale Triner (committed) and Jean-Laurent Rosenthal (tentative)

This session asks how non-bank financial intermediaries and social networks have contributed to the development of financial activity across history. The scholars in this session all study financial intermediaries and social networks that, that solved similar financial problems in the absence, or alongside, banks across time and place,. This exploration into the alternatives to formal banking practices is still very new and highly regionalized – this session will allow an important conversation across fields.

The work presented here will demonstrate how financial intermediaries helped solve problems that we now associate with the fundamental functions provided by banks, challenging in this way the historical literature on financial markets that has privileged banks as a prerequisite for economic development. This session will show how different local contexts, such as the type of government (absolute or representative), religion (e.g. Christian or Muslim), legal context (e.g. Common Law, Roman Law, Shari’a), and level of urbanization, ethnic homogeneity and wealth inequality underscore the logic of a variety of financial arrangements in history.

This session invites scholars from a wide spectrum of disciplines and regions to participate in exploring these issues. The session as it stands already brings together scholars on Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East from institutions in the Americas and Europe to understand who became an intermediary and why; what different intermediaries had in common with each other; what overarching incentives and mechanisms drove their participation in markets; and how and why their services changed over time. Our intention is to bring to light cross and trans-regional patterns in historical financial development.

The following scholars have already committed to the session:

Jody Benjamin (University of California, Riverside)
Cloth & Credit in Upper New Guinea in the Eighteenth Century

Christiaan van Bochove (Radboud University) and Ewout Hasken (Radboud University), Matching supply and demand on the Dutch mortgage market during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries

Elise Dermineur (Uppsala University / Umeå University)
Informal Credit Market Networks in Pre-Industrial France

Juliette Levy (University of California, Riverside) and Graciela Márquez Colín (Colegio de México)
A mutual aid society before its time: the caja de ahorro of the Ministerio de Hacienda, Mexico 1895-1900

Casey Lurtz (Harvard University)
Community Accountability: Municipal Courts and Micro-lending in Nineteenth Century Mexico

Cyril Milhaud (Paris School of Economics)
Priests or Bankers? Ecclesiastical credit in early modern Spain

Sofia Murhem (Uppsala University) and Göran Ulväng (Uppsala University)
The Church as a Parish Banker: Church Endowments and Credit in Rural Sweden 1750-1850

Maanik Nath (London School of Economics)
Overcoming Risk Barriers in Lending to Smallholder Ryots: Informal Credit Contracts in Rural Madras between 1920 and 1960.

Kirsten Wandschneider (Occidental College)
Rural Credit in Nineteenth Century Prussia

Fariba Zarinebaf (University of California, Riverside)
French Banquiers, Ottoman Pashas and Credit Networks in the Eighteenth Century


  • Juliette JL Levy, University of California, Riverside,,
  • Christiaan CVB van Bochove, Radboud University,,

Session members

  • Juliette JL Levy, University of California, Riverside,
  • Christiaan CVB van Bochove, Radboud University,
  • Ewout EH Hasken, Radboud University,
  • Elise ED Dermineur, University of Umea,
  • Casey CL Lurtz, Harvard University,
  • Fariba FZ Zarinebaf, University of California, Riverside,
  • Graciela GMC Marquez Colin, Colegio de México,
  • Jody JB Benjamin, University of California, Riverside,
  • Kirsten KW Wandschneider, Occidental College,
  • Sofia SM Murhem, Uppsala University,
  • Gorang GU Ulvang, Uppsala University,
  • Andrea AL Lluch, Universidad Nacional de la Pampa, Argentina,
  • Maanik MN Nath, London School of Economics,
  • Cyril CM Milhaud, Paris School of Economics,

Proposed discussant(s)

  • Jean-Laurent JLR Rosenthal, California Institute of Technology,
  • Gale GT Triner, Rutgers University,