My research focuses on Atlantic world trade during the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. In particular, I explore the ways that kinship bonds and ethno-religious ties facilitated business enterprises, and well as the ways that trade opened the door to intercultural connections. My current book manuscript, tentatively titled “Trust and Confidence: Jewish Networks, Philadelphia, and the Atlantic World, 1736-1783” looks at the economic lives of Philadelphia’s earliest Jewish settlers. My research shows that credit and reputation were critical to trust in all trading relationships.
I am also interested in what it meant to be Jewish. My work explores the ways the business gave Jews -- historically perpetual outsiders, marked by religion and ethnicity – commercial and social access to a relatively tolerant Christian culture. They acquired and nurtured complex insider-outsider status in an ethnically, religiously, and culturally heterogeneous environment.
I also work on a project that documents Jamaica’s Jewish history, including cataloging and conserving cemeteries and archival collections and making the information available for researchers.
At Drexel I teach a range of course on American History, History of the Atlantic World, and Jewish History and Culture.