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A Sea of Debt
Law and Economic Life in the Western Indian Ocean, 1780–1950

$105.00 (C)

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Part of Asian Connections

  • Date Published: March 2017
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107155657

$ 105.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • Will appeal to readers of both economic and legal history
    • Grounded in the case studies of working people, presenting an accessible new approach
    • Opens up discussion on possibilities for a new history of capitalism in the Islamic world
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    • Winner, 2018 J. Willard Hurst Prize, Law and Society Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    '… essential reading for anyone interested in the Indian Ocean world, Islam, economic life, and of course, the law.' Johan Mathew, H-IslamInAfrica

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2017
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107155657
    • length: 288 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 157 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.54kg
    • contains: 8 b/w illus. 1 map 2 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Life and debt
    2. Inscribing obligation
    3. Paper routes
    4. Translating transactions
    5. Making Africa Indian
    6. Muslim mortgages
    7. Capital moves
    8. Unravelling obligation

  • Author

    Fahad Ahmad Bishara, University of Virginia
    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, Massachusetts.


    • Winner, 2018 J. Willard Hurst Prize, Law and Society Association
    • Co-winner, 2018 Bentley Book Prize, World History Association

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