Omar H. Ali

Sep 17, 2020

Malik Ambar

Power and Slavery across the Indian Ocean

Oxford University Press 2016

purchase at Omar H. Ali’s Malik Ambar: Power and Slavery across the Indian Ocean (Oxford University Press, 2016), provides insight into the life of slave soldier Malik Ambar. It offers a rare look at an individual who began in obscurity in the Horn of Africa and reached the highest levels of South Asian political and military affairs in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Ambar's rise from slavery in the Horn of Africa to rulership in South Asia sheds light on the diverse mix of people, products, and practices that shaped the Indian Ocean world during the early modern period. Originally from Ethiopia--historically called Abyssinia--Ambar is best known for having defended the Deccan from being occupied by the Mughals during the first quarter of the seventeenth century. His ingenuity as a military leader, his diplomatic skills, and his land-reform policies contributed to his success in keeping the Deccan free of Mughal imperial rule. Omar H. Ali is Dean of Lloyd International Honors College and Professor of Comparative African Diaspora History at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Through archival and ethnographic research he explores issues of power and culture across the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds from the early modern period through the present. He is the author of several books, including Islam in the Indian Ocean World: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford/St. Martin's, 2016).
Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University. His research focuses on the intersection of law and the environment across the Western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome.

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