S1: Chambers of Commerce

This subproject focuses on the role of Chambers of Commerce (CoC) in the structuring of elites and power relations. From the 19th century onwards, CoC have been key meeting points for commercial and industrial elites in Basel, Geneva, and Zurich. They have played a central role in the collective mobilization of business elites, have set up and supported crucial economic infrastructures and institutions such as stock markets, arbitration courts, labor exchanges, as well as commercial and industrial fairs. Yet, in spite of their importance, their history as well as their functioning has remained uncharted.

We aim to collect systematic data on CoC, investigate who was active in them, and analyze how these persons interacted with various other local institutions. The comparison of CoC trajectories in Basel, Geneva and Zurich will also enable us to pinpoint differences and commonalities in the different cities under scrutiny from the 1890s to the 2010s.

Our research will also focus on how CoC deployed their activities on different nested scales, from their role in local, regional and national «ecosystems» of business associations to their numerous international and transnational connections.

Project Leader: Matthieu Leimgruber
Collaborator: Jonas Plüss
Student assistant: Anna Luna Frauchiger