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Indian Ocean Slavery in the Age of Abolition

Indian Ocean Slavery in the Age of Abolition

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Indian Ocean Slavery in the Age of Abolition
    Book Description:

    While the British were able to accomplish abolition in the trans-Atlantic world by the end of the nineteenth century, their efforts paradoxically caused a great increase in legal and illegal slave trading in the western Indian Ocean. Bringing together essays from leading authorities in the field of slavery studies, this comprehensive work offers an original and creative study of slavery and abolition in the Indian Ocean world during this period. Among the topics discussed are the relationship between British imperialism and slavery; Islamic law and slavery; and the bureaucracy of slave trading.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16646-0
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Maps
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. 1 Introduction: Indian Ocean Slavery in the Age of Abolition
    (pp. 1-20)

    When the British Parliament passed the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade on March 25, 1807, it transformed Britain almost overnight from the world’s leading slave-trading nation to the world’s leading crusader against the slave trade.¹ With its diplomatic initiatives proving woefully inadequate to stop the transatlantic slave trade, Britain established its West Africa Squadron in 1818 with an initial fleet of six ships that had grown to thirty ships by the mid-1840s.² The abolition of the slave trade was followed in 1833 by the Slavery Abolition Act, which abolished the institution of slavery itself in areas of...

  5. Part I. The Indian Ocean World in the Nineteenth Century

    • 2 Servitude and the Changing Face of the Demand for Labor in the Indian Ocean World, c. 1800–1900
      (pp. 23-44)

      The nineteenth century marked the single most important turning point in the economic history of the world: the creation of a truly international economy, centered on the burgeoning capitalist economies of western Europe and North America, which by the close of the 1800s had drawn all but the remotest regions of the globe into its orbit. The new international economy was driven by ever-accelerating technological change that transformed the relationship between the West and the rest of the world, underpinning the economic and political expansion of the West, including modern European colonialism. It also fundamentally changed labor relations. In the...

    • 3 On Becoming a British Lake: Piracy, Slaving, and British Imperialism in the Indian Ocean during the First Half of the Nineteenth Century
      (pp. 45-58)

      At the end of the eighteenth century, the Indian Ocean was still very much a contested maritime space. Beginning with the great Ming voyages led by Admiral Zheng He in the fifteenth century, various powers had sought to establish regional hegemony on its waters, with only limited success. First after the Ming to attempt maritime dominance was the Kingdom of Portugal, which established a militant thalassocracy in the sixteenth century that did not survive challenges by the Omani Arabs, the Dutch, and the British in the seventeenth century. Eventually joined by the French as a lesser contender for Indian Ocean...

  6. Part II. Slavery, Abolition, and Islamic Law

    • 4 Straight, No Chaser: Slavery, Abolition, and Modern Islamic Thought
      (pp. 61-80)

      It might strike the reader as odd to use an allusion to the drinking of alcohol in the title of an essay concerned with modern Islamic thought. That is not the intention. The title of this chapter is actually drawn from the world of jazz. Viewed from that perspective, it has direct relevance to the topic at hand. The words “Straight, No Chaser” are borrowed from the title of a famous jazz piece written and often performed by Thelonious Monk, the iconic jazz composer and pianist who brought great influence to the music, beginning in the early 1940s and continuing...

    • 5 Islamic Abolitionism in the Western Indian Ocean from c. 1800
      (pp. 81-98)

      For Bernard Lewis, Islamic abolitionism is a contradiction in terms, for it was the West that imposed abolition on Islam, directly or indirectly.¹ He stands in a long line of scholarship that stresses both the uniquely Western origins of the ending of slavery and the unchallenged religious legitimacy of slavery in Muslim eyes. Other scholars, however, have argued that some Muslims opposed slavery from within their own traditions, and that this eventually flowered into a fully abolitionist program.² Islamic abolitionism was crucial to turning laws into lived reality, for it proved very difficult to suppress servitude on the ground. Only...

  7. Part III. Fighting the Maritime Slave Trade

    • 6 “The Flag That Sets Us Free”: Antislavery, Africans, and the Royal Navy in the Western Indian Ocean
      (pp. 101-119)

      On June 20, 1897, the residents of the Seychelles, like others living throughout the British Empire, gathered to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The occasion was marked by a weeklong program of events. But to H. Cockburn-Stewart, the colonial administrator later recounting the celebrations to a member of Parliament in England, there was one particularly notable occasion. It concerned a group of 2,000 so-called liberated Africans who had been among the 2,667 individuals settled on the islands between 1861 and 1875 as a result of the Royal Navy’s suppression of the East African slave trade.¹ The administrator described how, on...

    • 7 “If You Catch Me Again at It, Put Me to Death”: Slave Trading, Paper Trails, and British Bureaucracy in the Indian Ocean
      (pp. 120-140)

      On September 6, 1872, the British ship HMSVultureintercepted and captured theYasmeen, a dhow travelling from the island of Pemba off the East African coast to Rass al-Hadd near the town of Sur on the Omani coast.¹ On board were 169 slaves, 13 crew members, and 21 passengers.² Upon its capture, British officials investigated and interrogated the crew, confiscated the ship, and imprisoned the ship’s captain and his son. The officials released the remaining passengers and crew and, in the end, transported the surviving slaves to Bombay.³ The ship was destroyed.

      This chapter focuses on the case of...

  8. Part IV. Economic and Social Mobility of Slaves

    • 8 Social Mobility in Indian Ocean Slavery: The Strange Career of Sultan bin Aman
      (pp. 143-159)

      It is not often in the history of slavery in the Indian Ocean that we can go beyond the endless disputation about numbers or the imposition of generalizations borrowed from the better-known but inappropriate Atlantic model to look at the human face of Indian Ocean slavery. The problem facing a historian of slavery in the Indian Ocean is partly the inadequacy and partiality of sources, since most of them are the creations of owners, rulers, and imperial powers who had a direct interest in representing their own views on the subject rather than giving a voice to the slaves themselves....

    • 9 Deeds of Freed Slaves: Manumission and Economic and Social Mobility in Pre-Abolition Zanzibar
      (pp. 160-180)

      Said bin Muhammad al-Aghbari, an Omani governor in Zanzibar in the 1820s, “possessed the entire monopoly of the traffic” in slaves.¹ Beyond this very public role as a slave trafficker, however, he also freed many of his slaves, founded a mosque, and dedicated houses and farms to support both the mosque and his freed slaves. To the European visitor in the nineteenth century who noted al-Aghbari’s monopolistic practice, and to other outsiders, slavery and the slave trade on the western shores of the Indian Ocean were obvious. Processes of manumission and the roles of freed slaves, though, were nearly invisible....

  9. Part V. The Changing Face of Slavery

    • 10 Slave Trading, Abolitionism, and “New Systems of Slavery” in the Nineteenth-Century Indian Ocean World
      (pp. 183-199)

      In April 1827, the captain of the Dutch brigSwiftretained Mahomet, a native of Surabaya on the north coast of Java, to recruit workers from the countryside around the city. Mahomet, who already knew the brig’s captain, soon secured the services of a number of men and women by giving them twenty rupees as two months’ advance wages and telling them they would be going to work in Singapore or Batavia. After the ship left Surabaya, however, its Javanese passengers learned that they were actually bound for the French colony of Île Bourbon (Réunion) in the southwestern Indian Ocean,...

    • 11 African Bondsmen, Freedmen, and the Maritime Proletariats of the Northwestern Indian Ocean World, c. 1500–1900
      (pp. 200-222)

      At the end of August 1878, eleven African fugitives made their way to the British port of Aden on a boat that they admitted stealing. Until they reached British territory, the owner of the boat had also owned the thieves: they were his slaves. The ten men and boys dove for mother-of-pearl and probably also crewed the boat; the woman among the eleven likely cooked for them. These bondspeople sought freedom in Aden, stating that their owner had mistreated them. British officials found such claims both familiar and credible. The previous May, two enslaved African boys had paddled canoes to...

    • 12 Slaves of One Master: Globalization and the African Diaspora in Arabia in the Age of Empire
      (pp. 223-240)

      At the turn of the twentieth century, a six-year-old boy named Ismail bin Mubarak was kidnapped from his hometown of Mkokotoni in Zanzibar and carried away to Arabia. Ismail’s kidnapper took him to Batinah, a stretch of the coast of northern Oman, where he sold him to a man from Hamriya (near Dubai). Five years and two owners later, Ismail found himself the slave of Salim bin Sultan of Sharjah, who sent him to the pearl banks to dive each season. In March 1931, when Ismail was nearly forty years old and had spent two decades of grueling work as...

  10. List of Contributors
    (pp. 241-242)
  11. Index
    (pp. 243-253)