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A Sparkling Glimpse Into The Stateless Diamond Trade

Barak Richman
Barak Richman
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Barak Richman

New York City’s Fifth and Sixth Avenues are home to some of the world’s biggest, richest retailers and financial giants. But on a stretch of 47th Street that connects these two thoroughfares, an ancient barter economy for diamonds still holds sway. The diamond industry is built on family relationships and ethnic networks, and it operates independent of modern legal and financial institutions.

Duke University professor Barak Richman wanted to find out how and why this enclave persists. He spent time wandering through the diamond district and speaking with the people who make their livelihoods there. He authored the book “Stateless Commerce: The Diamond Network and the Persistence of Relational Exchange” (Harvard University Press/2017).

Host Frank Stasio talks with Barak Richman, Edgar P. and Elizabeth C. Bartlett Professor of Law and Business Administration at Duke University, about the diamond network.

NOTE: This program originally aired on July 5, 2017. 

Jennifer Brookland is the American Homefront Project Veterans Reporting Fellow. She covers stories about the military and veterans as well as issues affecting the people and places of North Carolina.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.