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Slavery and the Slave Trades in the Indian Ocean and Arab Worlds: Global Connections and Disconnections

Gilder Lehrman Center’s 10th Annual International Conference
November 7-8, 2008


Conference Participants


Richard B. Allen
Richard B. Allen is the author of Slaves, Freedmen and Indentured Laborers in Colonial Mauritius (Cambridge University Press, 1999) and numerous articles on Mauritian social and economic history and slave trading in the Indian Ocean which have appeared in academic journals including Itinerario, Journal of African History, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Revue Outre-mers, and Slavery and Abolition, and in various collections. He co-authored and edited the dossiers which successfully nominated the Aapravasi Ghat and the Le Morne Cultural Landscape, both in Mauritius, for inscription as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The recipient of two Fulbright research awards and an American Council of Learned Societies/Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship, he is continuing a research project on European slave trading in the Indian Ocean between the seventeenth and mid-nineteenth century as well as working on a book-length manuscript on African and Asian free men and women of color and the development of a Creole society in Mauritius between 1729 and 1830.


Edward A. Alpers
Edward A. Alpers is Professor and Chair of the Department of History at UCLA. He has taught at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (1966-1968), and the Somali National University, Lafoole (1980); in 1994 he served as President of the African Studies Association. His major publications include Ivory and Slaves in East Central Africa (1975); Walter Rodney: Revolutionary and Scholar, co-edited with Pierre-Michel Fontaine (1982); Africa and the West: A Documentary History from the Slave Trade to Independence, with William H. Worger and Nancy Clark (2001); History, Memory and Identity, co-edited with Vijayalakshmi Teelock (2001); Sidis and Scholars: Essays on African Indians, co-edited with Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy (2004); Slavery and Resistance in Africa and Asia, co-edited with Gwyn Campbell and Michael Salman (2005); Slave Routes and Oral Tradition in Southeastern Africa, co-edited with Benigna Zimba and Allen F. Isaacman (2005); Resisting Bondage in Indian Ocean Africa and Asia, co-edited with Gwyn Campbell and Michael Salman (2007); and Cross-Currents and Community Networks: The History of the Indian Ocean World, co-edited with Himanshu Prabha Ray (2007). Professor Alpers has served as chair for fifty-four Ph.D. dissertations and presently supervises the work of nine advanced graduate students.


David Blight
David Blight, the Class of 1954 Professor of History and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University, is the author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Harvard University Press, 2001), which received seven book awards, including the Bancroft Prize, the Abraham Lincoln Prize, and the Frederick Douglass Prize as well as four awards from the Organization of American Historians, including the Merle Curti prizes for both intellectual and social history. He is also the author of a book of essays, Beyond the Battlefield: Race, Memory, and the American Civil War (University of Massachusetts Press, 2002); and Frederick Douglass's Civil War: Keeping Faith in Jubilee (LSU Press, 1989). Blight participated closely in the discovery and bringing to light of two new slave narratives in 2004 and edited and introduced the book, with Harcourt Press, A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Own Narratives of Emancipation (2007). Blight has also been a consultant to several documentary films, including the 1998 PBS series, "Africans in America," and "The Reconstruction Era" (2004). Blight has a Ph. D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has also taught at Harvard University, at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, and for seven years was a public high school teacher in his hometown, Flint, Michigan.


Sugata Bose
Sugata Bose is the Director of the South Asia Initiative at Harvard University and the Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs. His main areas of research are modem South Asia and the history of the Indian Ocean region. Among his many publications are Modern South Asia: History, Culture, Political Economy (Routledge, 2004; with Ayesha Jalal), and A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of the Global Empire (Harvard University Press, 2006).
Photo credit: www.dongurewitzphotography.com


Gwyn Campbell
Gwyn Campbell is Canada Research Chair in Indian Ocean World History at McGill University. Born in Madagascar, he grew up in Wales where he worked as a BBC radio producer in English and Welsh. He holds degrees in economic history from the universities of Birmingham and Wales and has taught in India (Voluntary Service Overseas) as well as at universities in Madagascar, Britain, South Africa, Belgium and France. He served as an academic consultant for the South African Government in a series of inter-governmental meetings which led to the formation of an Indian Ocean regional association in 1997. He has published extensively on aspects of the economic and social history of the western portion of the Indian Ocean world, including An Economic History of Imperial Madagascar, 1750-1895: The Rise and Fall of an Island Empire. African Studies Series (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005). He is currently completing Africa and the Indian Ocean World for Cambridge University Press.


William Gervase Clarence-Smith
William Gervase Clarence-Smith is Professor of the Economic History of Asia and Africa at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. His latest book is Islam and the abolition of slavery, (Hurst, 2006). He co-edited (with Ulrike Freitag) Hadhrami traders, scholars and statesmen in the Indian Ocean, 1750s to 1960s (Brill, 1997), edited The economics of the Indian Ocean slave trade in the nineteenth century (Frank Cass, 1989), and authored The third Portuguese empire, 1825-1975, a study in economic imperialism (Manchester University Press, 1985), and Slaves, Peasants and Capitalists in Southern Angola, 1840-1926 (Cambridge University Press, 1979). He is chief editor of the Journal of Global History (London School of Economics and Cambridge University Press). In addition to publishing on slavery and Islam, he has written on colonialism, Middle Eastern and Indian diasporas, equids and elephants, and beverages and masticatories. His teaching includes a course on Islamic reform in Southeast Asia from the late eighteenth century.


Janet Ewald
Janet Ewald’s first research examined how a small kingdom in the Nuba Hills participated in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century networks of the greater Nile valley.  One such network—the slave trade—took some of the people from the kingdom far from their homes.  After the publishing the book based on this research, Ewald became intrigued by the story of one young Sudanese bondsman who serviced steam vessels anchored off Jidda. So she began to study the relationship between slavery and the apparent "modernization" of the Indian Ocean world.  Ewald then discovered that African freedmen worked on British steam liners.  This led her to her current book project, "Motley Crews:  African and Asian Seafarers on English Vessels in the Indian Ocean, c. 1610-1900." Part II of her manuscript analyzes the growth of slavery and the slave trade,  putting the forced journeys of African captives into the context of the many other nineteenth-century Indian Ocean World migrations.  It pays particular attention to the labor of enslaved Africans in ports and at sea.  Her presentation for the GLC Conference, "Sail to Steam, from Bondage to Emancipation," summarizes some of the contents of Part II.


Bernard K. Freamon
Bernard Freamon is a Professor of Law at Seton Hall Law School. He is also director of two study abroad programs, the Program for the Study of Law in the Middle East, the first and only American bar Association-approved study abroad program in the Arab world, and the Zanzibar Winter Program on Modern Day Slavery and Human Trafficking, based in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Professor Freamon has lectured and published in the areas of Islamic Jurisprudence, Islamic Legal History, Legal Philosophy, American Legal History, Evidence, Prisoners’ Rights, and Slavery and the Law. His recent publications have focused on slavery and post-Enlightenment Qur’anic hermeneutics. Two earlier articles, a 1998 article on slavery in Islam and a 2003 article on martyrdom, are widely cited. Professor Freamon received his B.A. from Wesleyan University and his J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law (Newark). He also possesses masters and doctoral degrees in law from Columbia University. He is currently working on a book on the complex relationship between Islamic law and the "Empires of the Monsoons," namely British India and the Arab, South Asian and East African sultanates and sheikhdoms, as those entities confronted the issue of slavery and its abolition.


Robert Harms
Robert Harms is the H. J. Heinz Professor of History and African Studies at Yale University. He received his Ph.D. in History in 1978 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where his work focused on the Bobangi traders of the Congo River and was later published in 1981 as the book River of Wealth, River of Sorrow: The Central Zaire Basin in the Era of the Slave and Ivory Trade, 1500-1891. In 1979 Professor Harms joined the History Department at Yale University, where he has directed the African Studies Program, the Agrarian Studies Program, and the Southern African Research Program. He has also served on the board of directors of the African Studies Association. Harms’s second book, Games Against Nature: An Eco-Cultural History of the Nunu of Equatorial Africa (1987, 1999), won the 1991 George Perkins Marsh Prize awarded by the American Society for Environmental History. Harms is also author of The Diligent: A Voyage Through the Worlds of the Slave Trade, which told the story of a single voyage of a single French slave ship in 1731-32. The book won the Frederick Douglas Prize, the J. Russell Major Prize, the Mark Lynton History Prize, and the International Book Prize. Most recently Harms has examined colonialism in the Congo River basin, which has necessitated archival research in Belgium, Britain, France, and Zanzibar.


Matthew S. Hopper
Matthew S. Hopper is Assistant Professor of History at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), San Luis Obispo, where he teaches courses in African history and world history.  He received his Ph.D. in History from UCLA in 2006 under the direction of Edward Alpers.  His research focuses on slavery and the slave trade in the Indian Ocean and the history of the African Diaspora in Arabia and the Gulf.  His dissertation research in Oman, Zanzibar, Bahrain, Yemen, Qatar, the UAE, and the UK was funded by grants from the SSRC and Fulbright-Hays.  His writing has recently appeared in Itinerario, Annales, and the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World.  He is currently revising a book manuscript on the history of the African Diaspora in Arabia.


Pier M. Larson
Pier M. Larson is Professor of African History at The Johns Hopkins University. A cultural and intellectual historian with interests also in social history, he specializes in early modern Madagascar, the Indian Ocean, slavery, religion, literacy, and the global African diasporas. He is author of two books, History and Memory in the Age of Enslavement (Heinemann, 2000) and Ocean of Letters: Language and Creolization in an Indian Ocean Diaspora (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2009), as well as numerous articles. He is currently working on a cultural history of literacy in early nineteenth century Madagascar tentatively titled Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic in an Indian Ocean Kingdom. Larson was born in Paris and spent his childhood in southeast Madagascar. He travels frequently to the western Indian Ocean in search of the region’s past.


Mandana E. Limbert
Mandana E. Limbert is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Queens College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York. She received her PhD in Anthropology and Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan (2002). Her work explores religion, gender, oil, and notions of Arabness in the Gulf and Indian Ocean. Her book, Of Ties and Time: gender, sociality and modernity in Oman, is forthcoming with Stanford University Press. She has co-edited a volume on resources and time for the School of American Research (Santa Fe, New Mexico), advanced seminar series and has begun a new project entitled Oman, Zanzibar, and the Politics of Becoming Arab. Her work has also appeared in Social Text, Ethnos, The Journal of Mediterranean Studies, and MIT-EJMES as well as in a number of edited volumes, including Monarchies and Nations, Teaching Islam, and Social Constructions of Nationalism.


Mohamed Y. Mattar
Mohamed Y. Mattar is Adjunct Professor of Law and Executive Director of The Protection Project, at The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. His professional expertise is in comparative and international law, especially international trafficking in persons. For over ten years, Mohamed Mattar has worked in more than 50 countries to promote state compliance with international human rights mandates. He has advised governments on drafting and implementing anti-trafficking legislation, drafted model legislation and national action plans to promote government commitment to combating trafficking in persons and he has testified before parliamentary commissions in the United States, Russia and Mexico to advocate for the passage of legislation and its effective implementation. He has served as a member of various United Nations expert groups focusing on trafficking in persons. He teaches courses on international and comparative law including "International Human Rights: Theory and Practice", "International Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children", "Comparative Legal Systems: Islamic Law" and "International Contract Law". Mohamed Mattar received his Doctor of Juridical Sciences (S.J.D.) and Master of Laws (LL.M) from Tulane University School of Law in New Orleans, Louisiana, his Master of Comparative Law (M.C.L.) from the University of Miami School of Law, and his License en Droit (LL.B.) from the Alexandria University Faculty of Law, Alexandria, Egypt.


Thomas F. McDow
Thomas McDow is an assistant professor of history at George Mason University.  His research interests include slavery, migration, kinship, and commerce in east Africa, Arabia, and the Indian Ocean.  He is currently working on a book about Arab migration to the east African interior in the nineteenth century.


Sue Peabody
Sue Peabody is Professor of History at Washington State University Vancouver. Her first book, "There Are No Slaves in France": The Political Culture of Race and Slavery in the Ancien Régime (Oxford, 1996) traced the 18th-century collision between France’s Free Soil tradition (whereby any slave who set foot on French soil was free) and the expansion of chattel slavery in France’s plantation colonies. She has co-edited two books, The Color of Liberty: Histories of Race in France, with Tyler Stovall (Duke, 2003) and Slavery, Freedom and the Law in the Atlantic World, with Keila Grinberg (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007). She is currently writing two books, Free Soil in the Atlantic World, a synthetic study of claims to the Free Soil principle in Europe, Africa and the Americas from the Middle Ages to the late nineteenth century, and a biography of Furcy, France’s Dred Scott.


Abdul Sheriff
Abdul Sheriff was born and educated in Zanzibar. He studied at the University of California at Los Angeles, and the School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London (PhD 1971). He taught history at the University of Dar es Salaam from 1969. In 1993 he was appointed Advisor & Principal Curator of the Zanzibar Museums. He also served as Chairman of the Presidential Committees on the State University of Zanzibar. He is now Executive Director of the Zanzibar Indian Ocean Research Institute (ZIORI). He has been a Visiting Professor or Fellow at several universities and the Institute of Advanced Study at Berlin. He has published and edited a number of books, including Slaves, Spices & Ivory in Zanzibar (1987), Zanzibar Under Colonial Rule (1991), The History & Conservation of Zanzibar Stone Town (1995), The Architecture of the Stone Town of Zanzibar (1998), as well numerous scholarly articles. He has submitted to a publisher a manuscript on "Dhow Culture: Longue Duree Dialogue Between Civilisations in the Indian Ocean (from the Periplus to the Portuguese). His current research interests are on the history of the Dhow Culture of the Indian Ocean, and history of Zanzibar and the Zanzibar Stone Town.