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Suchandra Ghosh


Gujarat’s role in the international trade network has long been researched. During the first half of the second millennium CE, the Indian Ocean emerged as a vast trading zone; its western termini were Siraf/Basra/Baghdad in the Persian Gulf zone and Alexandria/Fustat (old Cairo) in the Red Sea area, while the eastern terminus extended up to the ports in China. However, this essay privileges a single place, Anahilapura, which acted as a hinterland to many of the ports of Gujarat.

Kenneth R. Hall


Western historiography placed the indigenous Asia beyond the court political centers and the most commercially prominent ports-of-trade in the background of an exogenous (colonial) foreground. Western historical research from the sixteenth century onward privileged selected aspects and voices of the exogenous, focusing on the Arabic and Persian Middle East, India, China, and the West, represented from the nineteenth century onward by the terms Islamization, Indianization, Sinification, and Westernization. Today, historians who study the Indian Ocean give “agency” to things indigenous when they are juxtaposed to things exogenous. Local activities, events, beliefs, institutions, communities, individuals, and historical narratives are emphasized, given weight, and “privileged” over dependency on the exogenous. Simply taking agency away from the exogenous and giving it to the indigenous may seem to be a more realistic approach to overcoming the “from the deck of a ship” critique, but the issue of emphasis and privileging at the expense of “another” remains. Historians researching the non-West have tempered their previously held stance on this issue and now admit the depth and scale of influence that major exogenous civilizations (e.g., the Middle East, China, India, and the West) have had on some local cultures.

Shigeru Akita


The traditional and orthodox interpretation of the British Raj (colonial rule in India) characterizes it in terms of the economic exploitation of India. However, recent historical studies have focused on the revival or development of the Indian cotton industry at the turn of the twentieth century. This article pays special attention to the rapid development of the Indian cotton-spinning industry as an export industry for the Chinese market and its implications for intra-Asian competition.

Stewart Gordon


This paper explores relations between Western Indian cities and the supply areas connected to them. It begins with a discussion of the term “hinterland,” frequently used to describe these relations. As we shall see, the term greatly simplifies a complex set of relationships between cities, smaller towns, and rural villages. We will consider three case studies of money advanced against future assets. The first concerns the relation of thirteenth-century Jewish traders to their indigenous spice suppliers on the Malabar Coast; the second, the relation of eighteenth-century East India Company traders to cloth producers; and the third, the relation of Pune investors to taxation areas against which they loaned money to the Maratha government. In a time of slow communications and transportation the central problem was “trust at a distance”; the operative relationships were as much emotional and moral as economic. Finally, I will suggest a new way to conceptualize cities and their hinterlands.

Rila Mukherjee


The worlds of Central Asia and the Indian Ocean have been seen as discrete, seemingly unconnected except by way of the vertical silk roads descending through feeder routes into port cities situated along the Indian Ocean and its many seas, gulfs, and bays. Before Central Asia lost historical centrality and was regarded increasingly as a blank space on the map, it was a dynamic region. The Indian Ocean world with its spice, cotton, and silk routes was more known, having entered European geographical knowledge— and fantasy—from antiquity. The two worlds—terrestrial and oceanic—have been seen as diametrically opposed, with historiography privileging the latter. This essay links the two worlds by evoking people, places, and mobility through the legend of Prester John, a mysterious Christian monarch and putative ally against Muslims.

The Mission of Development

Religion and Techno-Politics in Asia


Edited by Catherine Scheer, Philip Fountain and R. Michael Feener

The Mission of Development interrogates the complex relationships between Christian mission and international development in Asia from the 19th century to the new millennium. Through historically and ethnographically grounded case studies, contributors examine how missionaries have adapted to and shaped the age of development and processes of ‘technocratisation’, as well as how mission and development have sometimes come to be cast in opposition. The volume takes up an increasingly prominent strand in contemporary research that reverses the prior occlusion of the entanglements between religion and development. It breaks new ground through its analysis of the techno-politics of both development and mission, and by focusing on the importance of engagements and encounters in the field in Asia.