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Nationality on Trial in the 19th Century Mediterranean

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| In 1873, Nissim Shamama died suddenly at his palazzo in Livorno. He was quietly one of the richest men in the Mediterranean. A Tunisian Jew born in the Ottoman Empire, Shamama had taken his place among the mercantile elite of a newly-unified Italy. He was a man who belonged to many places. But to whom would his vast inheritance belong? Our guest Jessica Marglin has published an award-winning book, The Shamama Case, that marshals an impressive array of archival sources to investigate how this question was resolved. As she demonstrates, the decade-long legal dispute over Shamama's estate was an international affair involving Tunisian officials, rabbis from throughout the Mediterranean, and some of Italy's foremost legal minds. In this conversation, we talk to Marglin about some of the highlights of the Shamama case, what it taught her about the history of citizenship and nationality in the 19th century Mediterranean, and the power of microhistory for disrupting conventional framings of the period.

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