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Abstract

This article explores the contours of debt and labor in the early twentieth-century Persian Gulf pearl dive. It examines the barwa, a declaration exchanged by nakhodas (dhow captains) about the amounts that divers owed and the terms by which they might be hired out. By looking both through and at the barwa, we find a window into the Indian Ocean maritime bazaar, and into the artifacts through which mobile and itinerant laborers were bound to the dhow and its captain. Maritime actors used these papers to navigate the boundary between person and property, and between free and unfree, all within a changing commercial and legal world.

Open Access
In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

Abstract

This article invites readers to rethink the work that routes can do in world history by braiding together the spatial and historical imaginaries of an itinerant community: the dhow captains (nakhodas) of Kuwait. Through a close reading of two genres of nakhoda writings, logbooks and nautical manuals, it explores the deliberate process by which they constructed their movement across the sea. It suggests that for dhows, travel across the Indian Ocean was a voyage through world history itself—a route along a recent and distant past, entangled with an imperial present. Through these materials historians can move towards a sense of space and time that foregrounds the imaginative processes that produce the Indian Ocean as an historical arena on the part of those who spent their lives traversing it.

In: Matatu

Abstract

The collection of essays in this volume examines forms of business documentation in the late Persianate world and the Indian Ocean, between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries. Looking upon business in its broadest sense, the themes range from property disputes within families to inter-polity and inter-imperial deals, all of which is captured within the notion of the bazaar. Presenting documents and documentary forms written in Persian, but also the associated languages of Arabic, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi and Rajasthani, the articles collectively enrich the idea of the Persianate, delineating its specific dispensations within regional contexts, and also its boundaries and limitations. This is also a contribution to the study of Persographia, in this case Persianate rather than just Persian writing. The articles study specific language combinations, lexical elements and usages that came to be deployed in different areas and the legal cultures they provide evidence for.

Open Access
In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient