African Studies Indian Ocean Trade
by
Edward A. Alpers
  • LAST REVIEWED: 08 February 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 June 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0084

Introduction

Africans have traded with the Indian Ocean world for millennia. Beginning with the exchange of food crops by anonymous Africans and Asians perhaps some forty-five hundred years ago, the coastline of eastern Africa—stretching from Suez to the Cape of Good Hope—has been an integral part of Indian Ocean trading networks (see separate Oxford Bibliographies entry on Indian Ocean and Middle Eastern Slave Trade). Although much of the scholarship on these connections focuses on the coast and coastal communities, such as the Swahili (see Oxford Bibliographies entry on Swahili City States of the East African Coast), Indian Ocean trade could extend deep into the African interior and have an impact among people who never saw the ocean. The majority of this scholarship has emphasized external factors in writing about Indian Ocean trade and Africa, but since the 1990s more scholars have sought to understand the African contributions to these commercial exchanges. The imposition of colonialism shifted the focus of African trade and production away from the Indian Ocean toward the metropolitan colonial powers. Since the gaining of independence in the second half of the 20th century, maritime trade has certainly not ceased, but its scope has become more global. Although there are still certain specifically Indian Ocean trade linkages to Africa, for the most part these reflect aspects of international business rather than Indian Ocean trade. Thus the rich history of Indian Ocean trade focuses on the many centuries of exchanges up until the end of World War II. Conceptually, we can think of this broad region as Indian Ocean Africa.

General Overviews

The emergence of world history as a teaching and research field since the 1990s has drawn much greater attention to the Indian Ocean than in years past. However, while a number of valuable histories of the Indian Ocean are available, Africa is necessarily only one regional element in these studies, trade itself being only one feature in each author’s discussion of Africa. Accordingly, no easily accessible overview of the entire field of Indian Ocean trade as it relates to Africa is available.

Comprehensive Histories

There are three reliable and currently available comprehensive histories of the Indian Ocean, that is, books that provide full chronological and geographical coverage of the entire Indian Ocean World region. The earliest is written by a specialist in the history of Southeast Asia (McPherson 1993); the next by a scholar trained in the history of South Asia (Pearson 2003); the most recent by an Africanist (Alpers 2014). Campbell 2010 offers a corrective to Asia-centered readings of Indian Ocean history, although the author focuses on the earlier period in his essay.

  • Alpers, Edward A. The Indian Ocean in World History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

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    Designed for use by undergraduates and general readers, this volume covers the history of the Indian Ocean from the third millennium BCE to the present. It discusses trade and production, politics and empire-building, the role of religion, diasporas, and cultural transformations across the Indian Ocean world.

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    • Campbell, Gwyn. “The Role of Africa in the Emergence of the ‘Indian Ocean World’ Global Economy.” In Eyes across the Water: Navigating the Indian Ocean. Edited by Pamila Gupta, Isabel Hofmeyr, and Michael Pearson, 170–196. Pretoria, South Africa: UNISA Press, 2010.

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      The author argues for the significance of the role played by Africa and Africans in what others have described as an Asian global economy, but which he defines more comprehensively in its wider Indian Ocean world context. This essay focuses on the early history of Indian Ocean Africa trade.

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      • McPherson, Kenneth. The Indian Ocean: A History of People and the Sea. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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        Written by an Australian specialist in the history of Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean, each chapter is organized on the theme of trade without ignoring questions of cultural exchange and social formation. McPherson pays serious attention to Africa’s place in the history of the Indian Ocean.

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        • Pearson, Michael. The Indian Ocean. London: Routledge, 2003.

          DOI: 10.4324/9780203414132Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Pearson is a specialist in the history of South Asia, Portuguese expansion, and the Indian Ocean who has also written intelligently about coastal East Africa during the Early Modern period. The book is noteworthy for taking the sea seriously and for its many vivid quotations from Indian Ocean travelers.

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          Restricted Chronological Studies

          The works included in this category provide broad coverage of the Indian Ocean world but within the limits of specific chronological periods. They are organized here by periodization and coverage. Sheriff 2010 concludes with the coming of the Portuguese at the end of the 15th century, as does Beaujard 2012, which adopts a world systems approach to Indian Ocean history. Both Chaudhuri 1985 and Risso 1995 begin only with the rise of Islam. Barendse 2002 and Barendse 2009 concentrate on the western Indian Ocean in the 17th and 18th centuries. In two separate book chapters, Campbell 2011 seeks to locate Africa in the global economy of the Indian Ocean and raises the problem of how historians characterize Indian Ocean periodization. Bose 2006 addresses certain themes in Indian Ocean history from the 19th century on, with an emphasis on India and Indians.

          • Barendse, R. J. The Arabian Seas: The Indian Ocean World of the Seventeenth Century. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2002.

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            This densely written volume pays serious and extensive attention to the place of East Africa in the larger history of the Indian Ocean during a major period of European company trade. The author specifically seeks to write a kind of world history that overcomes the boundaries of area studies.

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            • Barendse, R. J. Arabian Seas, 1700–1763. 4 vols. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2009.

              DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004176584.i-1404Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              A massive study running to almost two thousand pages in length, the most relevant sections for this bibliography appear in Volume 1 (on East Africa) and Volume 3 (on slavery and the slave trades), but many detailed references to Indian Ocean Africa are found throughout.

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              • Beaujard, Philippe. Les mondes de l’océan Indien. 2 vols. Paris: Colin, 2012.

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                A massive, deeply researched multidisciplinary study constructed on the application of world system theory to the Indian Ocean world as a unique Afro-Eurasian unit of analysis before 1500. A specialist on Madagascar, the author pays careful attention to the development of East Africa and Madagascar in both volumes.

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                • Bose, Sugata. A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006.

                  DOI: 10.4159/9780674028579Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                  Although Bose focuses on India and Indians in this short book, in chapter 3 on “Flows of Capitalists, Laborers, and Commodities” (pp. 72–121) he includes a useful discussion of the clove industry in East Africa (pp. 97–108).

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                  • Campbell, Gwyn. “Africa, the Indian Ocean and the ‘Early Modern’: Historiographical Conventions and Problems.” In Africa, Empire and Globalization: Essays in Honor of Anthony Hopkins. Edited by Toyin Falola and Emily Brownell, 81–92. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic, 2011.

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                    In this characteristically feisty essay the author, director of the Indian Ocean World Centre at McGill University in Montreal and a historian of Madagascar, critically analyzes what he identifies as the Eurocentric tradition of employing the term “early modern” in studies of Africa and the Indian Ocean World.

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                    • Chaudhuri, K. N. Trade and Civilisation in the Indian Ocean: An Economic History from the Rise of Islam to 1750. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

                      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781107049918Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      Trained as an economic historian, inspired by Fernand Braudel’s monumental history of the Mediterranean, the author’s treatment is especially strong for the Early Modern period of European intervention and commercial organization. Africa is significantly under-analyzed in this work.

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                      • Risso, Patricia. Merchants and Faith: Muslim Commerce and Culture in the Indian Ocean. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1995.

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                        Short readable text that links the history of the maritime and continental histories of the Islamic Indian Ocean from the rise of Islam to the later 19th century. Raises important questions about the intersection of Islamic and Indian Ocean histories with special relevance for the merchants of coastal eastern Africa.

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                        • Sheriff, Abdul. Dhow Cultures of the Indian Ocean: Cosmopolitanism, Commerce, and Islam. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.

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                          This beautifully illustrated volume by the leading Zanzibari historian is noteworthy for its discussion of economic and cultural aspects of Indian Ocean societies. Organized around major moments and epochs in the history of the region, greater attention is paid to East Africa in this history than in previous studies.

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                          Journals

                          The most important scholarly journal on the Indian Ocean is Études Océan Indien, which sometimes publishes articles on the trade of Indian Ocean Africa. In addition, the two major academic journals devoted to African history, the Journal of African History and International Journal of African Historical Studies, occasionally publish relevant articles, as do two important journals on slavery and the slave trade, Slavery & Abolition and Les Cahiers des Anneaux de la Mémoire. A number of Indian Ocean–related articles on early history have also been published in Afriques: Débats, méthodes et terrains d’histoire, Azania and the Journal of World History.

                          Primary Sources

                          Only a limited number of published primary sources are available that deal primarily with the Indian Ocean trade of Africa, although several collections include valuable information on commercial matters. Casson 1989 is a critical starting point, and while no other parallel sources are available for the fifteen hundred years before 1500, there are important collections and individual documents for the centuries after that date. National Archives of Rhodesia and Nyasaland and Centro de Estudos Históricos Ultramarinos 1962–1989 includes many invaluable documents concerning Portuguese trade in the 16th century, while Jenson 1973, Westra and Armstrong 2006, Ross 1986, and Freeman-Grenville 1965 present invaluable European accounts of East African trade from the 17th and 18th centuries, the last three centering on the slave trade. American trade with 19th-century East Africa is covered in Bennett and Brooks 1965, while many details of the 19th-century Indian Ocean slave trade are covered in relevant sections of Parliament 1968–1971.

                          • Bennett, Norman R., and George E. Brooks Jr. New England Merchants in Africa: A History through Documents, 1802 to 1865. Boston: Boston University Press, 1965.

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                            Americans were major traders in Indian Ocean Africa in the middle decades of the 19th century. This outstanding collection of documents includes extensive material on Zanzibar, the Comoros, and Madagascar.

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                            • Casson, Lionel, ed. The Periplus Maris Erythraei. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989.

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                              The most authoritative translation, accompanied by scholarly annotation, on this anonymous 1st century CE Alexandrian Greek commercial guide to the Roman trade of the western Indian Ocean. Covers ports of the Red Sea and pre-Swahili coast; ports in Arabia and India also reveal details about Indian Ocean Africa.

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                              • Freeman-Grenville, G. S. P. The French at Kilwa Island: An Episode in Eighteenth-Century East Africa History. Oxford: Clarendon, 1965.

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                                French entrepreneur Morice sought an exclusive contract with the Sultan of Kilwa to provide slaves to French plantations at Île de France (Mauritius). Includes his proposal, correspondence with French officials and merchants, list of trade goods, and documents on Mombasa. The editor’s introduction sets the wider context for the documents.

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                                • Jenson, John R., ed. Journal and Letter Book of Nicholas Buckeridge, 1651–1654. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1973.

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                                  Buckeridge was engaged in an economic reconnaissance of the Swahili coast and Comoro Islands for the English East India Company. His notes provide a wealth of information on trade.

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                                  • National Archives of Rhodesia and Nyasaland and Centro de Estudos Históricos Ultramarinos. Documentos sobre os Portugueses em Moçambique e na África Central/Documents on the Portuguese in Mozambique and Central Africa. 9 vols. Lisbon: Centro de Estudos Históricas Ultramarinos, 1962–1989.

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                                    Bilingual publication of critical documents on the Portuguese presence in eastern and central Africa, many of which include detailed economic information.

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                                    • Parliament. British Parliamentary Papers, Slave Trade. 95 vols. Shannon, Ireland: Irish University Press, 1968–1971.

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                                      This massive collection of parliamentary inquiries covers the entire globe, so the researcher must use the index for each volume to locate the extensive coverage of the Indian Ocean slave trade from Africa. Relevant headings for Indian Ocean Africa include Zanzibar, Portuguese possessions, Oman, and Ottoman Empire.

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                                      • Ross, Robert. “The Dutch on the Swahili Coast, 1776–1778: Two Slaving Journals, Part I & Part II.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 19.2–3 (1986): 305–360.

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                                        See also pp. 479–506. These two slaving journals make an interesting comparison with the previous Dutch slave trading journal and indicate the continuing interest the Dutch had to build up a bonded labor force at the Cape.

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                                        • Westra, Piet, and James Armstrong, eds. Slave Trade with Madagascar: The Journals of the Cape Slaver Leijdsman, 1715. Cape Town: Africana Uitgewers, 2006.

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                                          This bilingual publication details the business of trading for slaves at Tulear and several ports of northwestern Madagascar. It includes a helpful introduction by the coeditors.

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                                          The Pre-Islamic Period

                                          The earliest evidence of Indian Ocean trade with Africa concerns the exchange of food crops between Africa and South and Southeast Asia. Scholars have drawn upon sources as diverse as language evidence, archaeology, and classical texts to tease out this history (Fuller and Boivin 2009; Fuller, et al. 2011; Rangan, et al. 2012), while some have examined the antiquity of specific Asian crops in Africa (Neumann and Hildebrand 2009). Excavation of the major Roman port of Berenike (Sidebotham 2011), which is also noted in Casson 1989 (cited under Primary Sources), has yielded extensive evidence of Red Sea connections to Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Arabia, and India. Major monographs do not exist for other African ports, so we are dependent on scholarly articles that address themselves to specific aspects of Indian Ocean trade. Most notably, the central East African port of Rhapta described in the Periplus Maris Erythraei has never been located, but Chami 1999 demonstrates the presence of Roman trade at a site near the Rufiji River delta where most scholars believe Rhapta was situated. Munro-Hay 1996 reveals the numerous overseas connections of the ancient Ethiopian state of Aksum, while Horton 1996 provides the same kind of overview for the African coast from Ras Hafun, at the tip of northeastern Africa, down along the Swahili coast. The scholarship on both the Comoro Islands and Madagascar is primarily concerned with questions of human settlement, so that there is no coherent discussion of Indian Ocean trade during this period. In addition, no clear evidence indicates that the Comoro Islands were settled during the pre-Islamic period (Allibert and Vérin 1996). For Madagascar, Beaujard 2003 specifically links the Austronesian settlement of Madagascar to patterns of trade, although the focus of this article is not trade.

                                          • Allibert, Claude, and Pierre Vérin. “The Early Pre-Islamic History of the Comores Islands: Links with Madagascar and Africa.” In The Indian Ocean in Antiquity. Edited by Julian Reade, 461–470. London: Kegan Paul International, 1996.

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                                            Although it is certain that the Comoros were settled by early Indian Ocean traders and that links to Madagascar and Africa existed, there is no clear evidence of a genuine pre-Islamic period for the Comoros.

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                                            • Beaujard, Philippe. “Les arrivées austronésiennes à Madagascar: Vagues ou continuum? (partie I).” Études Océan Indien 35–36 (2003): 59–147.

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                                              The author’s discussion goes well beyond the pre-Islamic period, but he makes the important point that the Austronesian migrations “revealed commercial strategies embedded in the development of exchange networks of the Indian Ocean” (p. 59).

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                                              • Chami, Felix A. “Roman Beads from the Rufiji Delta, Tanzania: First Incontrovertible Archaeological Link with the Periplus.” Current Anthropology 40.2 (1999): 237–241.

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                                                The discovery of four Roman-provenance beads at Mkukutu, inland and northwest of the Rufiji delta, signals the first solid evidence to substantiate assertions that Rhapta may have been located in that area. The site is dated to c. 100 BCE–300 CE, which is consonant with dating for one of the beads.

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                                                • Fuller, Dorian Q., and Nicole Boivin. “Crops, Cattle and Commensals across the Indian Ocean: Current and Potential Archaeobiological Evidence.” Études Océan Indien (2009): 13–46.

                                                  DOI: 10.4000/oceanindien.698Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                  Important analysis that combines archaeological with biological evidence to explore the movement of both plants and animals both east and west across the northern Indian Ocean, the main focus being eastern Africa and South/Southeast Asia.

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                                                  • Fuller, Dorian Q., Nicole Boivin, Tom Hoogervorst, and Robin Allaby. “Across the Indian Ocean: The Prehistoric Movement of Plants and Animals.” Antiquity 85 (2011): 544–558.

                                                    DOI: 10.1017/S0003598X00067934Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    Further collaborative examination of developing archaeobiological sources for the movement of plants and animals between Africa and South/Southeast Asia.

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                                                    • Horton, M. C. “Early Maritime Trade and Settlement along the Coasts of Eastern Africa.” In The Indian Ocean in Antiquity. Edited by Julian Reade, 439–459. London: Kegan Paul International, 1996.

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                                                      The author seeks “to establish whether Africa played a continuous or discontinuous role in the commercial systems of the Indian Ocean” (p. 439) during the pre-Islamic period. He examines archaeological and classical sources for both the Somali and Swahili coastlines to suggest a positive answer to his question.

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                                                      • Munro-Hay, S. C. H. “Aksumite Overseas Interests.” In The Indian Ocean in Antiquity. Edited by Julian Reade, 403–416. London: Kegan Paul International, 1996.

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                                                        Aksum was the capital of the first Abyssinian Empire and served as the commercial center linking interior Ethiopia with Indian Ocean trade through its port of Adulis. This article describes trade in the early centuries CE up and across the Red Sea, with the Gulf and with South Asia.

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                                                        • Neumann, Katharina, and Elisabeth A. Hildebrand. “Early Bananas in Africa: The State of the Art.” Ethnobotany Research and Applications 7 (2009): 353–362.

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                                                          Bananas and plantains (Musa spp.), the origins of which are in South and Southeast Asia, are a major food crop in Africa. This article provides a detailed comparative analysis of competing theories about the antiquity of banana cultivation in Africa.

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                                                          • Rangan, Haripriya, Judith Carney, and Tim Denham. “Environmental History of Botanical Exchanges in the Indian Ocean World.” Environment and History 18.3 (2012): 311–342.

                                                            DOI: 10.3197/096734012X13400389809256Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            Draws upon interdisciplinary research in archaeobotany and paleoclimatic studies to examine how plant transfers dating from 2500 BCE to 100 CE between eastern Africa, southern Asia, and insular Southeast Asia possibly impacted host societies and environments. Shows how Africa was both a sending and a receiving area for food crop exchanges.

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                                                            • Sidebotham, Steven E. Berenike and the Ancient Maritime Spice Route. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011.

                                                              DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520244306.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                              Located on the Red Sea coast of modern Egypt, Berenike was the major Roman embarkation port for the Indian Ocean and terminus for Indian Ocean traders over a two-century period from c. 100 BCE to 100 CE. Based on extensive archaeological investigation, provides invaluable detail on this most important port.

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                                                              Islam and Trade to 1500

                                                              The rise and expansion of Islam from the first half of the 7th century CE served as a major stimulus to Indian Ocean trade across the entire maritime basin. From the Red Sea to the Swahili coast and its offshore islands, including the Comoros and Madagascar, Indian Ocean trade driven by Muslim merchants emerged as a major historical factor. This period is discussed in many broader treatments of eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean in both chronological and thematic terms, most significantly in Horton and Middleton 2000 and Pouwels 2002. More focused chronological analyses are provided in Whitehouse 2001 and Beaujard 2007, while Sutton 1998 and Wright 1992 emphasize Indian Ocean trade in the development of and linkages between these areas. Zhao 2015; Wood 2015; and Denbow, et al. 2015 demonstrate the significance of undertaking new archaeological research for evidence on Indian Ocean trade with Africa. The Red Sea has only recently begun to attract the same amount of attention by historians that marks the historiography of the Swahili coast. Although no comprehensive discussions of the East African coast from Ras Hafun to Suez during this period are yet available, and most of the material on trade in the Red Sea during this period focuses on Arabia, an excellent starting point is Vallet 2011.

                                                              • Beaujard, Philippe. “East Africa, the Comoros Islands and Madagascar before the Sixteenth Century: On a Neglected Part of the World System.” Azania 42.1 (2007): 15–36.

                                                                DOI: 10.1080/00672700709480448Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                The author seeks to locate the Indian Ocean trading system in which East Africa and its islands were involved in the theoretical context of world-systems analysis. While not all readers will agree with his perspective, the research on which he bases his analysis is thorough and the argument thought-provoking.

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                                                                • Denbow, James, Carla Klehm, and Laure Dussubieux. “The Glass Beads of Kaitshàa and Early Indian Ocean Trade into the Far Interior of Southern Africa,” Antiquity 89.344 (2015): 361–377.

                                                                  DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2014.50Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  Analysis of glass beads enables the authors to reveal Indian Ocean trade links from Chibuene, Mozambique, as far west as northeastern Botswana, which was probably a site of salt production. The importance of Kaitshàa dates to the second half of the first millennium CE, at a time before the rise of centralized polities in southern Africa.

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                                                                  • Horton, Mark, and John Middleton. The Swahili: The Social Landscape of a Mercantile Society. Oxford: Blackwell, 2000.

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                                                                    The standard introduction to Swahili history and society includes chapters devoted to “The Swahili Coast and the Indian Ocean World” (pp. 72–88) and “The Trading System of the Swahili Coast” (pp. 89–114).

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                                                                    • Pouwels, Randall L. “Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean to 1800: Reviewing Relations in Historical Perspective.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 35.2–3 (2002): 385–425.

                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/3097619Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      A broad-ranging essay that critically examines different interpretations of the dynamic relationships between the societies and cultures of the Indian Ocean and coastal and island East Africa. Trade is considered a central element in how these linkages developed over time.

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                                                                      • Sutton, John E. G. “Kilwa: A History of the Ancient Swahili Town with a Guide to the Monuments of Kilwa Kisiwani and Adjacent Islands.” Azania 33.1 (1998): 113–169.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/00672709809511466Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        A well-illustrated and, notwithstanding much new research on Kilwa, still useful synthesis of the known evidence by an historical archaeologist who places Kilwa in its world history context, with links out into the Indian Ocean to India, the Middle East, the Red Sea, southern Mozambique, and the auriferous regions of highland south-central Africa, today Zimbabwe.

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                                                                        • Vallet, Eric. “Le marché des épices d’Alexandrie et les mutations du grand commerce de la mer Rouge (XIVe–XVe siècle).” In Alexandrie médiévale. Vol. 4, Actes des 4e Journées Alexandrie médiévale, Centre d’études alexandrines et Centre culturel français d’Alexandrie, 25–27 avril 2008. Edited by Christian Décobert, Jean-Yves Empereur, and Christophe Picard, 213–263. Études Alexandrines 24. Alexandria, Egypt: Centre d’Études Alexandrines, 2011.

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                                                                          Shifts the perspective on Alexandrian trade away from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean by examining two periods of high pepper prices in the 14th and 15th centuries. In the first period African ports dominated the route from India; by the second Mecca emerged as dominant.

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                                                                          • Whitehouse, David. “East Africa and the Maritime Trade of the Indian Ocean, A.D. 800–1500.” In Islam and East Africa: New Sources—Archives, Manuscripts and Written Historical Sources, Oral History, Archaeology; International Colloquium, Rome, 2–4 December 1999. Edited by Biancamaria Scarcia Amoretti, 411–424. Rome: Herder, 2001.

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                                                                            Although short, this chapter effectively provides an overview of the factors promoting trade and its consequences during this critical period. It includes convenient sections on both imports and exports.

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                                                                            • Wood, Marilee. “Divergent Patterns in Indian Ocean Trade to East Africa and Southern Africa between the 7th and 17th Centuries CE: The Glass Bead Evidence.” Afriques 6 (2015).

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                                                                              Extensive review of glass bead evidence to identify seven bead sequences present in East and southern Africa; chemical analysis and bead assemblages show different trade patterns between northern and southern coastal subregions. Suggests that the East Coast was not in control of all trade to southern Africa.

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                                                                              • Wright, Henry T. “Early Islam, Oceanic Trade, and Town Development on Nzwani: The Comorian Archipelago in the XIth–XVth Centuries A.D.” Azania 27.1 (1992): 81–128.

                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/00672709209511432Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                Demonstrates the degree to which developments in the Comoros derived from the Indian Ocean networks that linked them to coastal East Africa, Madagascar, and Arabia.

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                                                                                • Zhao, Bing. “Chinese-Style Ceramics in East Africa from the 9th to 16th Century: A Case of Changing Value and Symbols in the Multi-partner Global Trade.” Afriques 6 (2015).

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                                                                                  Tentatively identifies four phases of Chinese ceramics in East Africa that reflect changes in the configuration of successive trade networks that carried these highly desired commodities from production sites in China and Southeast Asia to Africa. Discusses the valorization of these ceramics by local Swahili elites.

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                                                                                  The Early Modern Period

                                                                                  Although not all scholars agree that this designation is appropriate for African history (see Campbell 2011, cited under Restricted Chronological Studies), it remains the most convenient way to chronologically identify the era from about 1500 to the second half of the 18th century without actually privileging European initiatives, while also situating these centuries in a comparative world history context. For Indian Ocean Africa the 16th century was a period of some upheaval, with both the Portuguese and the Ottoman empires seeking to impose themselves, with only limited success, on long established patterns of trade. Since the historiography is much richer for this period, but also because there are no inclusive analyses for all of Indian Ocean Africa beyond those noted in General Overviews, this section is subdivided into three regions, the Red Sea and Northeast Africa, East Africa and the Islands, and Madagascar and South Africa.

                                                                                  The Red Sea and Northeast Africa

                                                                                  Africa figures rather less in the historiography of the Red Sea than it does in that for the Swahili coast. This is arguably a reflection of the predominance of Arabist scholarship in this part of the Indian Ocean world. Nevertheless, several few valuable studies discuss the Indian Ocean dimensions of trade as it impacted or involved Northeast Africa (as opposed to an exclusive focus on the regional trade across the Red Sea) after 1500. The best overview is Miran 2012, which introduces a special issue of a journal that also includes an interesting paper on the Sudanese port of Suakin (Peacock 2012). Another valuable synthesis, which links both sides of the Red Sea to the wider Indian Ocean world is Tuchscherer 2002. Pankhurst 1961 offers insight into the ways in which Indian Ocean trade affected Eritrea and highland Ethiopia before the 19th century.

                                                                                  • Miran, Jonathan. “Space, Mobility, and Translocal Connections across the Red Sea Area since 1500.” Northeast African Studies, new ser., 12.1 (2012): 9–26.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.1353/nas.2012.0038Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    In addition to introducing the various articles included in this special issue of the journal, the author places the Red Sea in the wider context of emerging Indian Ocean studies.

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                                                                                    • Pankhurst, Richard. An Introduction to the Economic History of Ethiopia, from Early Times to 1800. London: Lalibela, 1961.

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                                                                                      Full of valuable detail, this compendium covers much more than Indian Ocean trade, but it is still essential for the trade of Ethiopia and Eritrea with the Indian Ocean world before the 19th century.

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                                                                                      • Peacock, A. C. S. “Suakin: A Northeast African Port in the Ottoman Empire.” Northeast African Studies, new ser., 12.1 (2012): 29–50.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1353/nas.2012.0009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        Covering more than trade, this essay draws upon previously unused Ottoman sources to reconstruct the history of this important Red Sea African port city. Ottoman conflicts with the Portuguese and Christian Abyssinia are discussed, as well as its role in the Red Sea–Indian Ocean trade.

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                                                                                        • Tuchscherer, Michel. “Trade and Port Cities in the Red Sea: Gulf of Aden Region in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century.” In Modernity and Culture: From the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. Edited by Leila Tarazi Fawaz and C. A. Bayly, 28–45. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002.

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                                                                                          In addition to its focus on matters commercial, this chapter includes two very helpful maps for the periods of 1510 and 1600 that clearly identify the Indian Ocean networks in operation in the Red Sea during these two centuries.

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                                                                                          East Africa and the Islands

                                                                                          The best introduction to the Swahili coast as it relates to the wider Indian Ocean world during the Early Modern period is Pearson 1998. A shorter and wider perspective that includes the Somali coast is Newitt 1987, and its author’s earlier essay, Newitt 1983, on the Comoros is a useful complement to this chapter. For the ivory and slave trades from the Mozambique coast in this period, see Alpers 1975; for the roots of the plantation economy, slavery, and slave trade from the Swahili coast, Vernet 2009 and Vernet 2017 are the best analyses. Vernet 2015 provides a unique examination of Swahili maritime activities. Indian traders rose to prominence by dominating the ivory and cloth trade during this period (see Alpers 1976); Machado 2009 offers a valuable survey of the trade in Indian textiles to Africa that spans this era. For northern Madagascar’s links to the Swahili world, the best introduction is still Vérin 1986.

                                                                                          • Alpers, Edward A. Ivory and Slaves in East Central Africa: Changing Patterns of International Trade to the Later Nineteenth Century. London: Heinemann, 1975.

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                                                                                            Chapters 2 (pp. 39–69) and 3 (pp. 70–103) address the rise of both the ivory and the slave trades from the ports of northern Mozambique into the Indian Ocean during the Early Modern era, as well the impact of both on the African societies of the coast and interior.

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                                                                                            • Alpers, Edward A. “Gujarat and the Trade of East Africa, c. 1500–1800.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 9.1 (1976): 22–44.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/217389Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              Presents evidence for the growing importance of Gujarat, western India, in the trade of eastern Africa, with special emphasis on links between merchants based at Diu, and their correspondents at Mozambique Island. Republished in Alpers, East Africa and the Indian Ocean (Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2009), pp. 3–22.

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                                                                                              • Machado, Pedro. “Awash in a Sea of Cloth: Gujarat, Africa, and the Western Indian Ocean, 1300–1800.” In The Spinning Worlds: A Global History of Cotton Textiles, 1200–1850. Edited by Giorgio Riello and Prasannan Parthasarathi, 161–179. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                Drawing from data in his thesis on the Vāniyā community of Diu, the author builds a much broader argument that demonstrates clearly that Indian cotton textiles were the key exchange medium in the Indian Ocean trade of Africa during this period.

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                                                                                                • Newitt, Malyn D. D. “The Comoro Islands in Indian Ocean Trade before the Nineteenth Century.” Cahiers d’Études africaines 89–90 (1983): 139–165.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.3406/cea.1983.2260Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  A companion contribution to understanding the Indian Ocean trade of Africa during the Early Modern period, with recognition of the key linking role that the Comoros played between Madagascar and continental Africa.

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                                                                                                  • Newitt, Malyn D. D. “East Africa and Indian Ocean Trade.” In India and the Indian Ocean, 1500–1800. Edited by Ashin Das Gupta and M. N. Pearson, 201–223. Calcutta: Oxford University Press, 1987.

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                                                                                                    This essay covers the entire coastline from Zeila and the Gulf of Aden down to southern Mozambique and locates the changes brought about by European presence along the coast and in the Indian Ocean on eastern Africa, both coast and interior. Includes a valuable bibliographical note.

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                                                                                                    • Pearson, Michael N. Port Cities and Intruders: The Swahili Coast, India, and Portugal in the Early Modern Era. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                      Building upon deep knowledge of multiple historiographies (South Asian, Portuguese expansion, and Indian Ocean), the author seeks to integrate the Swahili coast into the larger Indian Ocean world. Trade figures importantly as a running theme in this insightful book.

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                                                                                                      • Vérin, Pierre. The History of Civilisation in North Madagascar. Translated by David Smith. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Balkema, 1986.

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                                                                                                        This exhaustive thesis, originally published in French in 1975, based on archaeological and literary sources, shows convincingly how closely integrated certain coastal communities of northern Madagascar were integrated commercially and culturally with the Swahili coast and Indian Ocean, including during the Early Modern period.

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                                                                                                        • Vernet, Thomas. “Slave Trade and Slavery on the Swahili Coast, 1500–1750.” In Slavery, Islam and Diaspora. Edited by Behnaz A. Mirzai, Ismael Musah Montana, and Paul E. Lovejoy, 37–76. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                          The author’s extensive research more effectively documents the pre-18th-century slave trade, including connections between the Swahili coast and Madagascar, than anything previously. Includes valuable commentary on the received scholarship.

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                                                                                                          • Vernet, Thomas. “East African Travelers and Traders in the Indian Ocean: Swahili Ships, Swahili Mobilities ca.1500–1800.” In Trade, Circulation, and Flow in the Indian Ocean World. Edited by Michael Pearson, 167–202. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

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                                                                                                            Brings together scattered evidence on the little known involvement of Swahili elites, shipping, and sailors in Indian Ocean trade.

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                                                                                                            • Vernet, Thomas. “The Deep Roots of the Plantation Economy on the Swahili Coast: Productive Functions and Social Functions of Slaves and Dependents, circa 1580–1820.” In Changing Horizons of African History. Edited by Awet T. Weldemichael, Anthony A. Lee, and Edward A. Alpers, 51–100. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2017.

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                                                                                                              Important intervention that challenges previous scholarship on the elements that gave rise to plantation slavery in Swahili society. Demonstrates the value of integrating the history of trade with social history. This version is a slightly revised and abridged version of an essay that originally appeared in French in 2013.

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                                                                                                              Madagascar and South Africa

                                                                                                              During the Early Modern era the orientation of this subregion of Indian Ocean Africa was as much to the South as to the North. Under the rule of the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or VOC), the Cape Colony was connected in its trade and politics to VOC centers at Colombo, in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and at Batavia, on Java (now Indonesia), as well as to Dutch-controlled Mauritius. The best introduction to this Indian Ocean network is Ward 2009. Worden 2007 and Worden 2016 locate VOC Cape Town as an Indian Ocean port, while Worden 2003 examines the Cape’s specific links with Mauritius in the 18th century. The slave trade at Madagascar in the 17th century is analyzed in Barendse 2002; Armstrong and Worden 1989 shows clearly that Madagascar was the main source of enslaved labor to the Cape. Vink 2003 explores the Dutch slave trade across the Indian Ocean in the 17th century, while Allen 2014 brings together data for slave trading by all the European powers in the region from the 16th to the mid-19th centuries.

                                                                                                              • Allen, Richard B. European Slave Trading in the Indian Ocean, 1500–1850. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2014.

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                                                                                                                Drawing upon a rich array of primary and secondary sources, the author provides the first thorough analysis of European slave trading in the Indian Ocean during the Early Modern period into the 19th century. Much of the material pertains to Africa.

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                                                                                                                • Armstrong, James, and Nigel Worden. “The Slaves, 1652–1834.” In The Shaping of South African Society, 1652–1840. 2d ed. Edited by Richard Elphick and Hermann Giliomee, 109–183. Cape Town: Maskew, Miller, Longman, 1989.

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                                                                                                                  This essay remains the best single introduction to the slave trade and slavery in South Africa. The authors propose that some 25 percent of all slaves disembarked at the Cape came from Madagascar.

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                                                                                                                  • Barendse, R. J. The Arabian Seas: The Indian Ocean World of the Seventeenth Century. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2002.

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                                                                                                                    The author includes a substantial section (pp. 259–274) that focuses on the place of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean slave trade of the 17th century.

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                                                                                                                    • Vink, Markus. “The World’s Oldest Trade: Dutch Slavery and the Slave Trade in the Indian Ocean in the Seventeenth Century.” Journal of World History 14.2 (2003): 131–177.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1353/jwh.2003.0026Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      Offers a comprehensive analysis of Dutch slaving in the Indian Ocean in the critical 17th century.

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                                                                                                                      • Ward, Kerry. Networks of Empire: Forced Migration in the Dutch East India Company. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                        Exemplary application of network theory to the Indian Ocean realm of the Dutch East India Company. Briefly discusses trade (pp. 57–64) and pays particular attention to the case of Shaykh Yusuf of Makassar, whose exile to the Cape from Batavia is the most vivid human example of how this network operated.

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                                                                                                                        • Worden, Nigel. “Cape Town and Port Louis in the Eighteenth Century.” In The Indian Ocean Rim: Southern Africa and Regional Cooperation. Edited by Gwyn Campbell, 42–53. London: Curzon, 2003.

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                                                                                                                          Shows how these two important port cities in the Early Modern period were connected through the political domination of the VOC.

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                                                                                                                          • Worden, Nigel. “VOC Cape Town as an Indian Ocean Port.” In Cross Currents and Community Networks: The History of the Indian Ocean World. Edited by Himanshu Prabha Ray and Edward A. Alpers, 142–162. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                            Argues for locating Cape Town as an Indian Ocean port by demonstrating how its human and commercial linkages gave it a distinctly Indian Ocean character.

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                                                                                                                            • Worden, Nigel. “Indian Ocean Slaves in Cape Town, 1696–1807.” Journal of Southern African Studies 42.3 (2016): 389–408.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/03057070.2016.1171554Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              In this article Worden uses new quantitative data to demonstrate the Indian Ocean origins of slaves imported to the Cape during this period. Emphasizes the significance of South Asian sources and later the African coast.

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                                                                                                                              The Long 19th Century

                                                                                                                              Beginning somewhere after the mid-18th century and ending with World War I, the 19th century is the most intensively studied period for Indian Ocean Africa. The slave trade dominates much of this literature, as do studies tracing the roots of European colonialism, the two phenomena being intimately linked through the powerful abolition movement that Great Britain spearheaded after abolishing the slave trade in 1807 and slavery in its global empire in 1833. The exploitation of East Africa’s ivory resources, not all of which were directed toward Indian Ocean markets however, was similarly linked to the slave trade in many of these studies. The development of plantation economies on the offshore islands and northern Swahili coast further stimulated Indian Ocean trade during this period. The importation of Indian textiles significantly expanded during this period, as well, while the textile trade reflected the intimate linkages between African consumer tastes and the Indian textile industry, which was mainly centered in Gujarat and Coromandel for the African export market. The last decades of this period witnessed two important developments that played a major role in shaping the modern era. The first was the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, which dramatically altered the seaborne route linking Europe to the Indian Ocean to the detriment of the Cape. The second was the introduction of steamships, which, over time and much more gradually than is often supposed, replaced sailing vessels and the dominance of the monsoons over maritime transportation in the Indian Ocean.

                                                                                                                              Slave Trade

                                                                                                                              Slave trade studies for the Indian Ocean trade do not have the kinds of data available that exist for the Atlantic slave trade, but since the 1970s a great deal of progress has been made in understanding the details of the trade in Indian Ocean Africa (Beachey 1976). Attempts to quantify the traffic are still rudimentary (Austen 1988), but, without doubt, during its height from the middle of the 18th century to the very end of the 19th century the slave trade was a central feature of Africa’s relationship with the Indian Ocean (Lovejoy 2011). The economics of the slave trade have been a particular area of scholarly interest (Clarence-Smith 1988). Alpers 1975 discusses the relationship between the ivory and slave trades from the mid-18th to the later 19th centuries. Ewald 2000 discusses the changing role of East African seafarers, both enslaved and free, during the period. The most detailed studies have a more regional focus and are noted in the different geographical subheadings for the long 19th century.

                                                                                                                              • Alpers, Edward A. Ivory and Slaves in East Central Africa: Changing Patterns of International Trade to the Later Nineteenth Century. London: Heinemann, 1975.

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                                                                                                                                The later chapters of this book argue that the decline in ivory trading from Mozambique was paralleled by a rise in the slave trade from c. 1750 into the 19th century.

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                                                                                                                                • Austen, Ralph. “The 19th Century Islamic Slave Trade from East Africa (Swahili and Red Sea Coasts): A Tentative Census.” Slavery & Abolition 9.3 (1988): 21–44.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/01440398808574960Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  Lacking the kinds of shipping records available for the Atlantic slave trade that have yielded a remarkable online database, the author is necessarily dependent upon the quantitative estimates of different scholars and travelers in reconstructing this census. The results are, therefore, more suggestive than definitive.

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                                                                                                                                  • Beachey, R. W. The Slave Trade of Eastern Africa. London: Collings, 1976.

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                                                                                                                                    A pioneering attempt to treat the slave trade and abolition across the entirety of eastern Africa, including the African islands of the southwest Indian Ocean. Somewhat disjointed in its presentation and largely descriptive, this still remains the only book even to attempt such a sweeping overview.

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                                                                                                                                    • Clarence-Smith, William Gervase, ed. Special Issue: The Economics of the Indian Ocean Slave Trade in the Nineteenth Century. Slavery & Abolition 9.3 (1988).

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/01440398808574959Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      This collection of articles includes many specific studies of the impact and operation of slave trading in Indian Ocean Africa. The editor’s contribution on the economics of the trade in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean is an especially valuable general overview.

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                                                                                                                                      • Ewald, Janet J. “Crossers of the Sea: Slaves, Freedmen, and Other Migrants in the Northwestern Indian Ocean, c. 1750–1914.” American Historical Review 105.1 (2000): 69–91.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.2307/2652435Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        A uniquely wide-ranging discussion of African seamen that places their histories in the wider context of Indian Ocean maritime labor and British Asiatic maritime transport, which were designed to control the labor of Indian lascars.

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                                                                                                                                        • Lovejoy, Paul E. Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa. 3d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139014946Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          This is the standard treatment of this vast topic and comprehensively covers the entire continent, including the Indian Ocean slave trade of eastern Africa. The author’s quantification for the East African traffic should be regarded as the most authoritative available.

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                                                                                                                                          Ivory Trade

                                                                                                                                          East African elephants produce the largest and best, in terms of malleability, ivory in the world. Their tusks have been sought in the Indian Ocean market for millennia, being carved into bangles, ornaments, and figurines for consumers in India and China. East African ivory also made its way to Europe as early as the medieval period, where it was also carved into religious objects. The ivory trade received a major boost in the 19th century by demand from Europe and America, where rising bourgeoisie consumerism created a demand for piano keys, combs, billiard balls, buttons, and jewelry that much later were replaced by plastics. Yet even this market indirectly involved the hunting of East African elephants because the ivory trade was largely in the hands of Indian merchants at Zanzibar, so that much ivory reached Europe via Bombay. The first serious attempt to address this trade is Beachey 1967, but the classic study is Sheriff 1987. For Mozambique, see also Alpers 1975 (cited under Slave Trade). Thornbahn 1979, an unpublished dissertation, is a valuable contribution on this subject. The ivory trade at Mozambique is discussed in great detail in Machado 2014. Unfortunately, the ivory trade in other parts of Indian Ocean Africa is nowhere treated coherently.

                                                                                                                                          • Beachey, R. W. “The East African Ivory Trade in the Nineteenth Century.” Journal of African History 8.2 (1967): 269–290.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/S0021853700007052Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            Provides an initial broad survey covering the East African territories now represented by Uganda, Kenya, mainland Tanzania, and South Sudan. Includes factors of demand, supply, and details of items traded to procure ivory.

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                                                                                                                                            • Machado, Pedro. Ocean of Trade: South Asian Merchants, Africa and the Indian Ocean, c. 1750–1850. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781107707375Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              Drawing upon rich archival sources in India, Portugal, Mozambique, and the United Kingdom, the author devotes a long chapter, “White Gold” (pp. 168–207), to a detailed analysis of the ivory trade between Mozambique and western India during the height of this commerce.

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                                                                                                                                              • Sheriff, Abdul. Slaves, Spices, & Ivory in Zanzibar: Integration of an East African Commercial Empire into the World Economy, 1770–1873. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                This important book includes extensive information of the dimensions and financing of the ivory trade. The author carefully analyzes the Indian merchant communities that dominated capitalization of the ivory trade, as well as the Africans who controlled elephant hunting and competed with Arabs in ivory trading.

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                                                                                                                                                • Thornbahn, Peter Frederic. “The Precolonial Ivory Trade of East Africa: Reconstruction of a Human-Elephant Ecosystem.” PhD diss., University of Massachusetts, 1979.

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                                                                                                                                                  This most interesting dissertation uses the methods of environmental studies to assess the impact of the export ivory trade on the elephant population of East Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                  Other Trade Items

                                                                                                                                                  Although ivory and slaves dominate the literature on Indian Ocean trade with Africa in the Long 19th Century, they were not the only commodities that sustained the trading networks of the western Indian Ocean. Indian textiles were absolutely essential for the exchange of both ivory and slaves with African consumer-producers (Machado 2009) until they were partly replaced in the second half of the 19th century by, first, American and, then, British cotton piece goods. However, Indian textiles never lost their allure on the Swahili coast (Prestholdt 2008), a position of primacy that dates back at least to the 15th century (Prestholdt 1998). Sheriff 1987 gives the most authoritative analysis of the development of clove production at Zanzibar and Pemba, although Cooper 1977 is still valuable. Generally unnoticed in discussions of trade are foodstuffs, but in the 19th century an extensive trade emerged around the rim of the western Indian Ocean in foodstuffs (Alpers 2009).

                                                                                                                                                  • Alpers, Edward A. “The Western Indian Ocean as a Regional Food Network in the Nineteenth Century.” In East Africa and the Indian Ocean. Edited by Edward A. Alpers, 23–38. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                    Originally published as a conference paper in 1984, this chapter brings together a large amount of archival and published data to demonstrate the lively exchange of foodstuffs from the African islands of the Southwest Indian Ocean, along coastal East Africa, including the Red Sea, across the Gulf to western India.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Cooper, Frederick. Plantation Slavery on the East Coast of Africa. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1977.

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                                                                                                                                                      Discusses the system of plantation slavery on Zanzibar and the Swahili coast as a consequence of the development of clove and coconut production for export, as well as grain for Zanzibar and Pemba.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Machado, Pedro. “Awash in a Sea of Cloth: Gujarat, Africa, and the Western Indian Ocean, 1300–1800.” In The Spinning World: A Global History of Cotton Textiles, 1200–1850. Edited by Giorgio Riello and Prasannan Parthasarathi, 161–179. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                        The author demonstrates the central importance of Gujarati textiles for the trade with Africa, even as the specific centers of production and exportation shifted over time within Gujarat. Importantly discusses the significance of African tastes in determining which Indian textiles were acceptable for African trade.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Prestholdt, Jeremy. As Artistry Permits and Custom May Ordain: The Social Fabric of Material Consumption in the Swahili World, circa 1450–1600. PAS Working Paper No. 3. Evanston, IL: Program of African Studies, Northwestern University, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                          Based on a careful reading of published primary and secondary sources, Prestholdt reconstructs the role of imports, especially textiles, in enabling material differentiation and the hierarchical demonstration of social status in Swahili society at the turning of the Early Modern period. A pioneering contribution to textile history in East Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Prestholdt, Jeremy. Domesticating the World: African Consumerism and the Genealogies of Globalization. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.

                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520254244.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            Major contribution to studies of African consumerism, challenging earlier scholarship that focused on African production for export. Devotes one chapter to 18th-century Nzwani, in the Comoros (pp. 13–33), but the main focus is on Zanzibar in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Among global linkages Bombay is analyzed as primary center.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Sheriff, Abdul. Slaves, Spices, & Ivory in Zanzibar: Integration of an East African Commercial Empire into the World Economy, 1770–1873. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                              The author’s discussion of the introduction of cloves, the decision to develop a plantation economy, its rise and collapse, and the export trade is unmatched. Although Bombay initially was the destination for clove exports, the United States and Great Britain became significant export markets in the mid-19th century.

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                                                                                                                                                              The Red Sea

                                                                                                                                                              During the 19th century Red Sea trade was reinvigorated by the transportation revolution (Dubois 2002), the full dimensions of which are analyzed in vivid detail for Massawa in Miran 2009. One consequence of the dramatic changes occurring in the Red Sea and out into the Indian Ocean was an increasing demand for labor in urban Arabia, for date plantations in Oman, and for pearl fisheries off the Arabian side of the Gulf. This demand stimulated an increase in the slave trade from the Nile valley (Ewald 1988) and Ethiopia (Ahmad 1988). The regional trade with India is presented at some length in Pankhurst 1974, while an article that reexamines a major late-19th-century famine in eastern Sudan (Serels 2012) observes that grain imported from India was a major element in the food supply for this region.

                                                                                                                                                              • Ahmad, Abdussamad H. “Ethiopian Slave Exports at Matamma, Massawa and Tajura c. 1830 to 1885.” Slavery & Abolition 9.3 (1988): 93–102.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/01440398808574964Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                A parallel study of the movement of enslaved Ethiopians from the interior highlands to the major Red Sea ports for export to Arabia.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Dubois, Colete. “The Red Sea Ports during the Revolution in Transportation, 1800–1914.” In Modernity and Culture: From the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. Edited by Leila Tarazi Fawaz and C. A. Bayly, 58–74. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Highlights the variable impact that the introduction of steamships and the opening of the Suez Canal had on different Red Sea ports, affecting both markets and caravan routes, Some ports declined, like Suakin and Hodeida, while new, colonial ports emerged, like Port Sudan and Jabuti.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Ewald, Janet J. “The Nile Valley System and the Red Sea Slave Trade, 1820–1880.” Slavery & Abolition 9.3 (1988): 71–92.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/01440398808574963Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    Analyzes the system by which African captives were produced in the Nile valley system and transported to Red Sea ports for export to Arabia, as well as their employment there.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Miran, Jonathan. Red Sea Citizens: Cosmopolitan Society and Cultural Change in Massawa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                      In this pioneering, prodigiously researched study trade as only one factor among many is discussed by the author, but his presentation indicates clearly that this important Red Sea port was linked to prevailing Indian Ocean networks of exchange involving both African and Indian Ocean commodities, ideas, and people.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Pankhurst, Richard. “Indian Trade with Ethiopia, the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries.” Cahiers d’Études africaines 14.55 (1974): 453–497.

                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.3406/cea.1974.2633Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                        The author’s prodigious knowledge of the sources for Ethiopia and the surrounding region enables him to bring together many details on the critical role played by Indian traders during the Long 19th Century. The article links the Indian Ocean, coastal entrepôts, and the interior.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Serels, Steven. “Famines of War: The Red Sea Grain Market and Famine in Eastern Sudan, 1889–1891.” Northeast African Studies, new ser., 12.1 (2012): 73–94.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1353/nas.2012.0021Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          Although this microstudy pinpoints independent environmental and political factors as causes of famine in eastern Sudan during these years, it emphasizes the central place of grain from Bombay and Basra in supplying the diets of the pastoralists who dominated this area.

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                                                                                                                                                                          The Swahili and Somali Coasts

                                                                                                                                                                          There is a rich scholarly literature on the Swahili coast during the 19th century, most of it focusing on the central place occupied by Bu Saidi Zanzibar and the extension of long-distance trade into the African interior. Sheriff 1987 (cited under both Ivory Trade and Other Trade Items) provides a comprehensive overall analysis of Indian Ocean trade during this critical period, including a close analysis of the major Indian merchant capitalists at Zanzibar. Nicholls 1971 provides detailed coverage on the first half of the century, with special attention to trade; Bhacker 1992 builds an analysis on the link between trade and empire. The central role played by Indian merchant capital is the focus of contributions in Clarence-Smith 2001, Metcalf 2007, and Goswami 2011. Although there is nothing similar for the Somali coast, Cassanelli 1982 is an important pioneering work. Prestholdt 2008 represents a new direction in studies of African consumerism at the end of this period, while Rockel 2014 treats parallels between Nyamwezi caravan porters and Swahili seamen.

                                                                                                                                                                          • Bhacker, M. Reda. Trade and Empire in Muscat and Zanzibar: Roots of British Domination. London: Routledge, 1992.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.4324/9780203410332Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            Focuses on the evolution of British imperial policy toward Oman and East Africa through the commercial network connecting Bombay to Muscat and Zanzibar. Especially strong on the role of Indian merchants in this network. Important for the use of Omani sources in Arabic as well as British imperial sources.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Cassanelli, Lee V. The Shaping of Somali Society: Reconstructing the History of a Pastoral People, 1600–1900. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982.

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.9783/9781512806663Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              This pioneering study of southern Somali society includes the only comprehensive analysis of Somali trade in the 19th century (chapter 5, pp. 147–182).

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Clarence-Smith, William Gervase. “Indian and Arab Entrepreneurs in Eastern Africa (1800–1914).” In Négoce Blanc en Afrique Noire: L’évolution du commerce à longue distance en Afrique noire du 18è au 20è siècles. Edited by Hubert Bonin and Michel Cahen, 335–349. Paris: Société Française d’Histoire d’Outre-Mer, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Based mainly on secondary sources, this short essay provides a unique discussion of the important role of both Indian and Arab traders as “communities of trust” (p. 336). The author’s global understanding of how international trading systems operate enables him to identify important trends in the central place occupied by these merchants.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Goswami, Chhaya. The Call of the Sea: Kachchhi Traders in Muscat and Zanzibar, c. 1800–1880. New Delhi: Orient BlackSwan, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Drawing upon major regional archives and commercial family documents, the author reconstructs in great detail the history of several distinct Kachchhi communities—Bhatias, Lohanas, Khojas, Memons, and Shivite Gosains or Goswamis—in trade between the major ports of Kachchh and Zanzibar.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Metcalf, Thomas R. Imperial Connections: India in the Indian Ocean Arena, 1860–1920. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    India lies at the center of this lively study by a senior historian of British India, but there are references to East Africa throughout. Chapter 6 on “India in East Africa” (pp. 165–203) looks closely at the idea of East Africa as a place of settlement for South Asians.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Nicholls, Christine S. The Swahili Coast: Politics, Diplomacy and Trade on the East African Littoral, 1798–1856. London: Allen & Unwin, 1971.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      An early analysis of the Omani-dominated Swahili coast that is especially valuable for its detailed discussion of what was traded, by whom, and to what destinations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Prestholdt, Jeremy. Domesticating the World: African Consumerism and the Genealogies of Globalization. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.

                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520254244.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                        Rather than studying African production for export, the author explores the ways in which African demand determined the kinds of imports that entered the East African market in the late 19th century. One chapter examines 18th-century Nzwani, but most of the book focuses on Zanzibar and Mombasa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Rockel, Stephen J. “Between Pori, Pwani and Kisiwani: Overlapping Labour Cultures in the Caravans, Ports and Dhows of the Western Indian Ocean.” In The Indian Ocean: Oceanic Connections and the Creation of New Societies. Edited by Abdul Sheriff and Engseng Ho, 95–122. London: Hurst, 2014.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Draws suggestive parallels in the nature of work and workers’ cultures among caravan porters, dock workers, and sailors in 19th-century East Africa. Although these men were not major traders, many participated in trade on an individual, small-scale level, converting their wages into consumer goods.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          The Mozambique Channel and Mascarene Islands

                                                                                                                                                                                          Like the Red Sea, the Mozambique Channel forms a separate oceanic subregion of Indian Ocean Africa, dominated by a distinct system of winds and currents. Although it is connected to the dominant monsoon system of the Indian Ocean across its northern end, the annual monsoon regime did not determine sailing to the south of Cape Delgado. One consequence of this open-ended yet closed maritime system of the southwestern Indian Ocean is that there existed a vigorous trade across the Mozambique Channel involving continental Africa, the Comoro Islands, and the western coast of Madagascar. Although most of the historical literature on the Mozambique Channel focuses on the slave trade, Alpers 2009 includes three chapters that discuss the broader integrity of the Mozambique Channel. Machado 2014 includes an important chapter on the role of Vānyā merchants in the Mozambique slave trade. Campbell 2004 includes important chapters on the external trade of imperial Madagascar that build upon earlier publications in scholarly journals; Larson 2000 provides a detailed analysis of the slave trade from Madagascar to the Mascarene Islands, while Larson 2007 offers a reassessment of the dimensions of the enforced migration of Malagasy into the Indian Ocean world. Boyer-Rossol 2013 offers a glimpse of the violent movement of enslaved Africans from Mozambique to western Madagascar in the 19th century. Shepherd 1980 presents a useful summary of the slave trade of the Comoros. The definitive study of the dimensions of the slave trade from Africa and Madagascar to the Mascarene Islands is Allen 2003.

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Allen, Richard. “The Mascarene Slave-Trade and Labour Migration in the Indian Ocean during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.” Slavery & Abolition 24.2 (2003): 33–50.

                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/01440390308559154Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            The author’s unrivaled knowledge of sources enables him to derive the most accurate assessment of the dimensions of the movement of bonded labor, both slave and free, to the Mascarenes. East Africa and Madagascar were the major sources during the era of the slave trade, although India was also involved.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Alpers, Edward A. East Africa and the Indian Ocean. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              The three chapters in Part 3: The Mozambique Channel discusses the early-19th-century Malagasy raids on coastal Africa (“Madagascar and Mozambique in the Nineteenth Century,” pp. 131–146), links between Mozambique and the Comoros in the past two centuries (“A Complex Relationship: Mozambique and the Comoro Islands in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,” pp. 147–166), and the nature of littoral society in the Mozambique Channel (“Littoral Society in the Mozambique Channel,” pp. 167–180).

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Boyer-Rossol, Klara. “Makua Life Histories: Testimonies on Slavery and the Slave Trade in 19th Century Madagascar.” In African Voices on Slavery and the Slave Trade. Edited by Alice Bellagamba, Sandra E. Greene, and Martin A. Klein, 466–480. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139022552.049Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                This short essay is the author’s only publication in English. It derives from the research on her massive PhD dissertation on the Makua communities of western Madagascar [“Entre les deux rives du canal de Mozambique: Histoire et mémoires des Makoa de l’Ouest de Madagascar, XIXe-XXe siècles,” 2 vols., Université Paris Diderot (Paris 7), Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2015].

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Campbell, Gwyn. An Economic History of Imperial Madagascar, 1750–1895: The Rise and Fall of an Island Empire. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chapter 8 examines the full range of foreign trade excluding slaving from the highland kingdom of Imerina (pp. 181–212); chapter 9 is devoted to an assessment of the dimensions and operation of the slave trade (pp. 213–242).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Larson, Pier. History and Memory in the Age of Enslavement: Becoming Merina in Highland Madagascar, 1770–1822. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Chapter 2, “Moving Slaves” (pp. 49–81), focuses on a detailed reconstruction of the genesis and practice of the slave trade from highland Madagascar to the Mascarene Islands.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Larson, Pier. “Enslaved Malagasy and ‘Le Travail de la Parole’ in the Pre-revolutionary Mascarenes.” Journal of African History 48.3 (2007): 457–479.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/S0021853707002824Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                      To establish the demographic context for his analysis of the history of the Malagasy language in the Mascarenes, the author undertakes a careful analysis of the differing estimates of other historians for the magnitude of “involuntary” Malagasy migrations by destination from 1500 to 1930.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Machado, Pedro. Ocean of Trade: South Asian Merchants, Africa and the Indian Ocean, c. 1750–1850. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781107707375Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Discusses the part played by Indian merchants at Mozambique in financing the slave trade and shipping enslaved Africans to the markets of Gujarat, as well as provides an insightful analysis of the broader operation of the traffic in northern Mozambique (pp. 208–267).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Shepherd, Gill. “The Comorians and the East African Slave Trade.” In Asian and African Systems of Slavery. Edited by James Watson, 73–99. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Draws upon a variety of published sources to reconstruct a picture of Comorian involvement in the larger slave trade of East Africa. Discusses how the Comoros both imported enslaved labor and served as a transit for the movement of slaves to Madagascar and the Mascarenes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Modern Era

                                                                                                                                                                                                          The modern is marked by several major developments that dramatically changed the history of the trade of Indian Ocean Africa. Above all, the most dramatic change was the imposition of modern colonial rule over the previously independent peoples of Indian Ocean Africa. Most studies of East Africa in the modern era focus on the impact of colonialism, varieties of African resistance, the rise of nationalism, and the emergence of modern nation-states; only a few examine issues of Indian Ocean trade. A unique study of continuities between the precolonial and colonial periods is Gilbert 2004. Curtin 1981 is a pioneering essay on the export trade in mangrove poles (Swahili boriti) from Kenya. Martin 1991 provides a dedicated analysis of the Zanzibar clove industry in the colonial period and after the Zanzibar Revolution. A number of studies also discuss Indian settlement in East Africa under British colonial rule, although their focus tends to be on Asian politics and economic development in East Africa, rather than on trade for export. Mangat 1969 is the first of such studies, the most exhaustive of which is Gregory 1993. An interesting family history is Oonk 2009. The history of Indian settlement in South Africa is discussed in Bhana and Brain 1990, and the role of Indian traders in Vahed and Bhana 2015. Hart and Padayachee 2000 explores more contemporary Indian business practices in South Africa. Schaefer 1999 discusses Indian merchant links among Aden, Addis Ababa, and India in the late 19th and first half of the 20th centuries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Bhana, Surendra, and Joy B. Brain. Setting down Roots: Indian Migrants in South Africa, 1860–1911. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            Although the chronological period covered in this important monograph falls within the range of the Long 19th Century, in the South African context it is clearly located in the colonial era. The authors provide a comprehensive introduction to the phenomenon of Indian migrant labor to South Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Curtin, Philip D. “African Enterprise in the Mangrove Trade: The Case of Lamu.” African Economic History 10 (1981): 23–33.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/3601293Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                              This short article draws attention to the important trade in an African wood product that had been almost completely ignored by earlier scholars. The article includes an appendix (pp. 32–33) of mangrove pole production and exports from 1901 to 1978.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Gilbert, Erik. Dhows & the Colonial Economy of Zanzibar, 1860–1970. Oxford: Currey, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                This unique study demonstrates how dhows, both under sail and eventually motorized, survived the coming of steam transportation to the western Indian Ocean. Smaller and more agile than modern ships, dhows carved out a niche role in the clove and mangrove pole trades that lasted well into the 20th century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Gregory, Robert G. South Asians in East Africa: An Economic and Social History, 1890–1980. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Among this author’s many monographs on South Asians in East Africa, this one alone includes an important discussion of the role of their commercial enterprises into the Indian Ocean. Part 3 on “The Exportation of Savings and Profits” specially addresses issues relevant to this article.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Hart, Keith, and Vishnu Padayachee. “Indian Business in South Africa after Apartheid: New and Old Trajectories.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 42.4 (2000): 683–712.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/S0010417500003285Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This unique contribution examines business links between India and South Africa since the fall of apartheid.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Mangat, J. S. A History of the Asians in East Africa, c. 1886–1945. Oxford: Clarendon, 1969.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A pioneering study based on British archival sources of the Indian presence in East Africa as a whole. Includes a broad discussion of Asian economic activities during the colonial period.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Martin, Peter J. “The Zanzibar Clove Industry.” Economic Botany 45.4 (1991): 450–459.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1007/BF02930706Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The author was an agronomist with the Zanzibar Clove Research Project. The article provides a comprehensive economic and scientific overview of the clove industry, including details on the production and export of cloves, the main market for which shifted from India to Indonesia in the late 1920s.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Oonk, Gijsbert. The Karimjee Jivanjee Family: Merchant Princes of East Africa, 1800–2000. Amsterdam: Pallas, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The author had access to family papers and was able to interview members of this important East African Muslim Bohra family, yielding a richly detailed business history that includes both overseas enterprises and industrial development in East Africa. Richly illustrated.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Schaefer, Charles. “‘Selling at a Wash’: Competition and the Indian Merchant Community in Aden Crown Colony.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 19.2 (1999): 16–23.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1215/1089201X-19-2-16Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A short article that vividly lays out the intimate commercial network linking Indian merchants in Aden, Addis Ababa, and Bombay. The discussion of arbitrage and currency fluctuations is especially fascinating. Based on both secondary sources and interviews with participants in this business.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Vahed, Goolam H., and Surendra Bhana. Crossing Space and Time in the Indian Ocean: Early Indian Traders in Natal, a Biographical Study. Pretoria, South Africa: UNISA Press, 2015.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Traces the origins of Indian traders in Natal, the businesses they established, and their role in the development of Natal’s economy. Includes extensive biographical information on individual traders.

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