Blessed with numerous safe harbors, accessible ports, and a rich hinterland, Gujarat has been central to the history of Indian Ocean maritime exchange that involved not only goods, but also people and ideas. Transregional Trade and Traders: Situating Gujarat in the Indian Ocean from Early Times to 1900
(Oxford University Press) maps the trajectory of the extra-continental interactions of Gujarat and how it shaped the history of the Indian Ocean.
Chronologically, the volume spans two millennia, and geographically, it ranges from the Red Sea to Southeast Asia. The book focuses on specific groups of Gujarati traders and their accessibility and trading activities with maritime merchants from Africa, Arabia, Southeast Asia, China, and Europe.
It not only analyses the complex process of commodity circulation, involving a host of players, huge investments, and numerous commercial operations, but also engages with questions of migration and diaspora. Paying close attention to current historiographical debates, the contributors make serious efforts to challenge the neat regional boundaries that are often drawn around the trading history of Gujarat.
Edward A. Alpers
is a research professor of history at UCLA. Professor Alpers’ research and writing focus on the political economy of international trade in precolonial eastern Africa, including the manifold cultural dimensions of this exchange system, with special attention to the wider world of the Indian Ocean.
is the head of the Department of History, S.K. Somaiya College, Mumbai, India. She specializes in the maritime history of South Asia and the western Indian Ocean. She has authored the award-winning book The Call of the Sea, Kachchhi Traders in Muscat and Zanzibar c.1800–1880 (Orient Blackswan, 2011). Her current research project focuses on maritime trade and piracy in the Gulfs of Kachchh and Persia between 1650 and 1820.
Kelvin Ng, co-hosted the episode. He is a Ph.D. student at Yale University, History Department. His research interests broadly lie in the history of imperialism and anti-imperialism in the early-twentieth-century Indian Ocean circuit.