By Erik Gilbert
“Essential reading for anyone interested in Indian Ocean trade or the limits of ‘modernization’ during the colonial era.”
Laura Fair, The International History Review
“Well-written, succinct…Clearly this volume is an excellent resource for scholars as well as a useful, thought-provoking text for any graduate or undergraduate seminar.”
Catherine Cymone Fourshey, Itinerario
“Dhows and the Colonial Economy of Zanzibar provides the most thorough discussion to date of the centrality of the dhow to Zanzibar’s economic history. Generously illustrated and concisely written…provides a very readable account of colonial attempts to rationalize Zanzibar’s economy and the challenges inherent in this process.”
Heather J. Hoag, The International Journal of African Historical Studies
“This agreeably written and copiously illustrated book deserves a wide audience, especially from maritime historians and those studying the East African coast.”
Michael Pearson, International Journal of Maritime History
Conventional history assumes that the rise of the steamship trade killed off the Indian Ocean dhow trade in the twentieth century. Erik Gilbert argues that the dhow economy played a major role in shaping the economic and social life of colonial Zanzibar. Dhows, and the regional trade they fostered, allowed a class of indigenous entrepreneurs to thrive in Zanzibar. These entrepreneurs, whose economic interests stretched across continents and colonial boundaries, were able to thwart or shape many of the colonial state's pet projects. Not only did steamships fail to drive out indigenous sailing craft, but in some cases dhows were able to drive the steamer out of specific market niches. In highlighting the role of East Africa's commercial connections to the Middle East and India during the colonial period, Dhows and the Colonial Economy of Zanzibar, 1860-1970 makes a major contribution to African history as part of world history.
Erik Gilbert is an assistant professor of history at Arkansas State University. More info →
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Zanzibar Stone Town presents the problems of conservation in its most acute forms. Should it be fossilized for the tourists? Or should it grow for the benefit of the inhabitants? Can ways be found to accommodate conflicting social and economic pressures? For its size, Zanzibar, like Venice, occupies a remarkably large romantic space in world imagination. Swahili civilization on these spice islands goes back to the earliest centuries of the Islamic era.
The rise of Zanzibar was based on two major economic transformations. Firstly slaves became used for producing cloves and grains for export. Previously the slaves themselves were exported. Secondly, there was an increased international demand for luxuries such as ivory. At the same time the price of imported manufactured gods was falling. Zanzibar took advantage of its strategic position to trade as far as the Great Lakes.
Zanzibar stands at the center of the Indian Ocean system’s involvement in the history of Eastern Africa. This book follows on from the period covered in Abdul Sheriff’s acclaimed Slaves, Spices and Ivory in Zanzibar. The first part of the book shows the transition of Zanzibar from the commercial economy of the nineteenth century to the colonial economy of the twentieth century.
Between 1500 and 1850, European traders shipped hundreds of thousands of African, Indian, Malagasy, and Southeast Asian slaves to ports throughout the Indian Ocean world. The activities of the British, Dutch, French, and Portuguese traders who operated in the Indian Ocean demonstrate that European slave trading was not confined largely to the Atlantic but must now be viewed as a truly global phenomenon.