Published online by Cambridge University Press: 03 October 2019
This essay examines relations between eastern Africa and western India in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries in respect to two related sets of problems: the changing regimes of commercial circulation, and more particularly the evolution of patterns of human movement, notably via the slave trade from Ethiopia and the Swahili coast to Gujarat and the Deccan. It argues that over the course of the sixteenth century, commercial relations between Deccan ports such as Goa and Chaul, and the Swahili coast, came to be strengthened through the intervention of the Portuguese and their military-commercial system. At the same time, large numbers of African slaves reached the Muslim states in India, especially in the period after 1530, where they played a significant role as military specialists, and eventually as elite political and cultural actors. The shifting geographical dimensions of the African presence in India are emphasized, beginning in western Gujarat and winding up in the Deccan Sultanates. This contrasts markedly with the African experience elsewhere, where the meaning and institutional context of slavery were quite different.
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38 ‘Abdullah Hajji-ud-Dabir Ulughkhani, Zafar al-Walih bi-Muzaffar wa Alihi: An Arabic History of Gujarat, Ross, E. Denison, ed., 3 vols. (London: John Murray, 1910–29), vol. 2, xii–xviii, xxxiii–xxxivGoogle Scholar.
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42 For a survey of these sources, see Gina Maria Cordeiro Antunes, “Os Abexins no Decão e no Guzarate no século XVI: Escravos e senhores,” Mestrado thesis in History, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 1997.
43 We may note that the absence of notarial archives of the type used by historians of the Spanish Atlantic empire thus hinders the construction of a more nuanced and gendered history of the African presence in early modern India. See, by way of comparison, Williams, Danielle Terrazas, “‘My Conscience Is Free and Clear’: African-Descended Women, Status, and Slave Owning in Mid-Colonial Mexico,” The Americas 75, 3 (2018): 525–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
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57 Pereira, António Pinto, História da Índia no tempo em que a governou o visorei Dom Luís de Ataíde, Duarte, Manuel Marques, ed. (Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional-Casa da Moeda, 1987), 368–69Google Scholar, passim.
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59 King to viceroy Rui Lourenço de Távora, 29 Oct. 1609, in de Bulhão Pato, R. A., ed., Documentos Remettidos da Índia, ou Livros das Monções, vol. 1 (Lisbon: Academia Real das Ciências, 1880), 253Google Scholar. For Portuguese dealings with Malik ‘Ambar more generally, see Flores, Jorge, Nas Margens do Hindustão: O Estado da Índia e a expansão mogol, ca. 1570–1640 (Coimbra: Imprensa da Universidade de Coimbra, 2015), 235–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
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