MEI Arabia-Asia Cluster: Book discussion on A Sea of Debt: Law and Economic Life in the Western Indian Ocean, 1780–1950   
Date: 21 September 2017 Time: 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM  
Speaker(s): Dr. Fahad Bishara
Assistant Professor
Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia, USA
Venue: MEI Seminar Room, Level 7
29 Heng Mui Keng Terrace
Block B #06-06
Singapore 119620

(This event is organised by MEI’s Arabia-Asia Research Cluster, as part of its monthly seminar series.)


In this innovative legal history of economic life in the Western Indian Ocean, Bishara examines the transformations of Islamic law and Islamicate commercial practices during the emergence of modern capitalism in the region. In this time of expanding commercial activity, a mélange of Arab, Indian, Swahili and Baloch merchants, planters, jurists, judges, soldiers and seamen forged the frontiers of a shared world. The interlinked worlds of trade and politics that these actors created, the shared commercial grammars and institutions that they developed and the spatial and socio-economic mobilities they engaged in, endured until at least the middle of the twentieth century. This major study examines the Indian Ocean from Oman to India and East Africa over an extended period of time, drawing together the histories of commerce, law, and empire in a sophisticated, original and richly textured history of capitalism in the Islamic world.


About the Speaker

Dr Fahad Ahmad Bishara is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Virginia. He received his Ph.D. in History from Duke University, North Carolina in 2012 and holds an M.A. in Arab Gulf Studies from the University of Exeter. His research, in the fields of legal history and the history of capitalism, has been supported by the Social Science Research Council and the American Council of Learned Societies. He was also previously a Prize Fellow in Economics, History and Politics at the Center for History and Economics at Harvard University. His next project is a microhistory of the dhow trade between the Gulf and the Indian Ocean during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and will take on issues of international law, empire, mobility, writing, and scale -- all in a shifting seascape.

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