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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.
This article examines the history of Gujarat-Red Sea relations in the first quarter of a century after the Ottoman conquest of the Hijaz, in the light of Arabic narrative sources that have hitherto been largely neglected. While earlier historians have made use of both Ottoman and Portuguese archives in this context, we return here to the chronicles of Mecca itself, which prove to be an unexpectedly interesting and rich source on the matter. Our main interest is in the figure of Jarullah ibn Fahd and his extensive annalistic work, Nayl al-munā. A good part of our analysis will focus on the events of the 1530s, and the dealings of Sultan Bahadur Shah Gujarati's delegation to the Ottomans, headed by ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Asaf Khan. But we shall also look at the longer history of contacts, and conclude with brief remarks on the relevance of the career of the celebrated Gujarati-Hijazi intellectual, Qutb al-Din Muhammad Nahrawali. We thus hope to add another important, concrete dimension to our understanding of India's location in the early modern Indian Ocean world, as a tribute to the career and contribution of David Washbrook, our friend and colleague.
It is now widely rumoured that the ‘Asian century’ is upon us. But what does this really mean? As late as 1988, Deng Xiaoping—in remarks made before the Indian prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi—expressed some scepticism about the facility of the formulation. As Deng stated then:
In recent years people have been saying that the next century will be the century of Asia and the Pacific, as if that were sure to be the case. I disagree with this view. If we exclude the United States, the only countries in the Asia-Pacific region that are relatively developed are Japan, the ‘four little dragons’, Australia and New Zealand, with a total population of at most 200 million. (. . .) But the population of China and India adds up to 1.8 billion. Unless those two countries are developed, there will be no Asian century. No genuine Asia-Pacific century or Asian century can come until China, India and other neighbouring countries are developed. By the same token, there could be no Latin-American century without a developed Brazil. We should therefore regard the problem of development as one that concerns all mankind and study and solve it on that level. Only thus will we recognize that it is the responsibility not just of the developing countries but also of the developed countries.
Whatever the doubts about his standing as a Marxist, then, we may say that Deng remained resolutely universalist in his perspective, at least outwardly.
The era from 1400 to 1800 saw intense biological, commercial, and cultural exchanges, and the creation of global connections on an unprecedented scale. Divided into two books, Volume 6 of the Cambridge World History series considers these critical transformations. The first book examines the material and political foundations of the era, including global considerations of the environment, disease, technology, and cities, along with regional studies of empires in the eastern and western hemispheres, crossroads areas such as the Indian Ocean, Central Asia, and the Caribbean, and sites of competition and conflict, including Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Mediterranean. The second book focuses on patterns of change, examining the expansion of Christianity and Islam, migrations, warfare, and other topics on a global scale, and offering insightful detailed analyses of the Columbian exchange, slavery, silver, trade, entrepreneurs, Asian religions, legal encounters, plantation economies, early industrialism, and the writing of history.