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Transoceanic Arabic historiography: sharing the past of the sixteenth-century western Indian Ocean

Bahl, Christopher D. (2020) 'Transoceanic Arabic historiography: sharing the past of the sixteenth-century western Indian Ocean.', Journal of Global History, 15 (2). pp. 203-223.


The early modern western Indian Ocean constituted a dynamic space of human interaction. While scholarship has mostly concentrated on trade and commerce, recent studies have shifted the focus to social and cultural mobilities. This article argues for the emergence of a transoceanic Arabic historiography during the sixteenth century, which reflected on the cultural integration of regions from Egypt, the Hijaz, and Yemen in the Red Sea region, to Gujarat, the Deccan, and Malabar in the subcontinent. Historians from the Persian cosmopolis further north observed a strong cultural connection between Arabophone communities of the western Indian Ocean region. Manuscript collections in India show that Arabic historical texts from the Red Sea region had a readership in the subcontinent. Most importantly, mobile scholars began to compose Arabic histories while receiving patronage at the western Indian courts. Scholarly mobilities fostered cultural exchanges, which increasingly built on a shared history, written, read, and circulated in Arabic during the sixteenth century.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.
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Publisher statement:This article has been published in a revised form in Journal of Global History, This version is published under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND. No commercial re-distribution or re-use allowed. Derivative works cannot be distributed. © Cambridge University Press 20202.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:29 April 2022
Date of first online publication:25 June 2020
Date first made open access:29 April 2022

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