Cover of The Business of Transition by Paris Papamichos Chronakis
The Business of Transition
Jewish and Greek Merchants of Salonica from Ottoman to Greek Rule
Paris Papamichos Chronakis

October 2024
416 pages.

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503639669



The Business of Transition examines how the cosmopolitan bourgeoisie of the Eastern Mediterranean navigated the transition from empire to nation-state in the early twentieth century. In this social and cultural history, Paris Papamichos Chronakis shows how the Jewish and Greek merchants of Salonica (present-day Thessaloniki) skillfully managed the tumultuous shift from Ottoman to Greek rule amidst revolution and war, rising ethnic tensions, and heightened class conflict. Bringing their once powerful voices back into the historical narrative, he traces their entangled trajectories as businessmen, community members, and civic leaders to illustrate how the self-reinvention of a Jewish-led bourgeoisie made a city Greek.

Papamichos Chronakis draws on previously untapped local archival material to weave a rich narrative of individual portraits, introducing us to revered philanthropists and committed patriots as well as vilified profiteers and victimized Salonicans. Offering a kaleidoscopic view of a city in transition, this book reveals how the collapse of empire shook all the constitutive elements of Jewish and Greek identities, and how Jews and Greeks reinvented themselves amidst these larger political and economic disruptions.

About the author

Paris Papamichos Chronakis is Lecturer in Modern Greek History at the Royal Holloway, University of London.

"A fascinating examination of a vitally important city moving through the critical transition from Ottoman Imperial to Greek national rule, The Business of Transition provides a new and textured account of the period, showing that the mercantile classes were both central to and tremendously skillful at navigating this shift. Equally rich in sources and interpretation, this book is a major contribution to our understanding of Greeks, Jews, and the emergence of the 'New Greece.'"

—Katherine Fleming, author of Greece: A Jewish History

"Richly documented, The Business of Transition charts the profound transformations that affected the economic and political elites of one of the Mediterranean's great commercial hubs.Paris Papamichos Chronakis sheds new light on a singular chapter in the history of nationalism that reshaped the modern Jewish world."

—Francesca Trivellato, author of The Promise and Peril of Credit: What a Forgotten Legend about Jews and Finance Tells us about the Making of European Commercial Society