H-Law Podcast Episode 8: Fahad Ahmad Bishara

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A discussion with Fahad Ahmad Bishara about his book A Sea of Debt: Law and Economic Life in the Western Indian Ocean, 1780-1950 (Cambridge University Press, 2017). Dr. Bishara is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Virginia. He specializes in the economic and legal history of the Indian Ocean and Islamic world. In this podcast, Dr. Bishara discusses his sophisticated work that explores the intricate legal and economic regimes that traversed the Western Indian Ocean for generations. He also talks about how he effectively mined legal documents to craft this narrative.

:32                  Author Background

3:05                Why in the Indian Ocean law was both everywhere and nowhere

5:18                How the work reimagines connectivity in the Indian Ocean region 

7:43                Some ways the work adds to the historiography

11:35              The oceanic turn in the histories of Arabia and Africa 

15:09              East Africa as a place to reinvent oneself

17:21              How contracts bound East Africa & South Arabia to markets abroad

21:09              Some ways jurists bridged Arabia and East Africa

24:02              The matrices of rights jurists saw in the Indian Ocean

27:16              Methods used to find the voices of Indian Ocean migrants

30:48              Following the Waraqa across the Indian Ocean

33:34              Confronting a burgeoning British Indian empire

36:49              Consular clerks as intermediaries

39:48              British & Indian jurists’ takes on Islamic law and modern capitalism

44:05              The depression of the 1930s and its impact

47:58              What Dr. Bishara is working on now