Pearls, People, and Power: Pearling and Indian Ocean Worlds
(Ohio University Press, 2020), co-edited by Pedro Machado, Joseph Christensen, Steve Mullins) is the first book to examine the trade, distribution, production, and consumption of pearls and mother-of-pearl in the global Indian Ocean over more than five centuries. While scholars have long recognized the importance of pearling to the social, cultural, and economic practices of both coastal and inland areas, the overwhelming majority have confined themselves to highly localized or at best regional studies of the pearl trade. By contrast, this book stresses how pearling and the exchange in pearl shell were interconnected processes that brought the ports, islands, and coasts into close relation with one another, creating dense networks of connectivity that were not necessarily circumscribed by local, regional, or indeed national frames. By encompassing the geographical, cultural, and thematic diversity of Indian Ocean pearling, Pearls, People, and Power deepens our appreciation of the underlying historical dynamics of the many worlds of the Indian Ocean.
Pedro Machado is a global and Indian Ocean historian with interests in commodity histories, labor and migratory movements, and the social, cultural, environmental, and commercial trajectories of objects. He is based at Indiana University, Bloomington.