No 7 (2019): The Climate Coup: An Examination of Mamluk Ascendancy in the Ayyubid period in Relation to the Medieval Climate Anomaly

The organisation, institutionalisation and political rise of slave soldiers is traced through the history of the Muslim world and represents a recurring theme in Muslim rulers’ attempts to wrest and consolidate power from the other political elite in the region.  The rise of the Mamluks and the associated fall of the Ayyubid dynasty are byproducts associated with adverse and favourable climate patterns at the time. Ayyubid reign (1171-1260) directly coincided with the period called the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) (900-1300), which was responsible for the varying environmental conditions under examination. A nuanced analysis of Turkic nomadic lifestyle as well as the authority held by the mamluk emirs in the Ayyubid period in relation to the MCA will ultimately clarify the conditions associated with mamluk ascent to power.

No 6 (2019): Gendered Silence: Female Slave Imports and Khoikhoi Women in the Dutch Cape Colony

The Dutch East Indies Company had power in the Cape Colony of South Africa from 1652 to 1795. Under this rule, imported slave women and Indigenous Khoikhoi women were enslaved, despite the Khoikhoi being legally considered free. The purpose of this article is to synthesize the current research on the topic, and to bring a gendered perspective to Cape bondage. I show how gender, race, and origin influenced slave experiences and lifestyles. I present the environmental, social, and economic contexts that led to the start of slavery in the Cape, as well as the historical context that led to Khoikhoi enslavement. Despite the legal distinctions between slave and free, both groups lived under slave-like conditions, yet had unique experiences. This is shown through diverse examples of female slaves working in the domestic sphere, and Khoikhoi women working on farms. Additionally, I analyze the different treatment of female slaves and Khoikhoi women during the smallpox outbreaks in 1713, 1748, and 1755. Slaves and Khoikhoi both worked as washerwomen, which offered more freedom and a counternarrative to domesticity. Overall, it is concluded that although both these groups of women were enslaved under Dutch rule, each were responsible for different types of work, and received different treatment.

No 5 (2019): The Origins and Experiences of Female Indonesian Migrant Domestic Workers to Indian Ocean World Destinations, 1980-2018: A Case of Modern Indian Ocean World Bondage?

This paper studies the experiences of female Indonesian migrant workers employed in the domestic sector as maids, housekeepers, and nannies in Indian Ocean World destinations. Specifically, it examines the extent to which female international labour migration from Indonesia to Asia Pacific and the Middle East enables the violation of labour and human rights, and by extension, the perpetuation of modern systems of Indian Ocean World bondage. Part I focuses on the context of international Indonesian female labour migration, outlining its history from the 1980s to the present. This section investigates the socio-economic factors which contribute to women’s choices to migrate for domestic work, such as rural impoverishment and gendered divisions of labour. Part II assesses the human rights abuses that occur throughout the migrants’ placements overseas. It argues that Indonesian female international labour migration supports modern forms of Indian Ocean World bondage, functioning as a system which permits the widespread abuse, extortion, and exploitation of female migrant workers, and the limitations of their human rights.


No 4 (2018): Sudan and Somalia: Human-Environment Dynamic in the Horn of Africa, 1970-2000

The Horn of Africa has experienced, since decolonization, increased occurrences of various types of conflicts linked to bad governance, ethnic tensions, and environmental degradation, aggravated by the legacies of colonialism. Since the 1970s more specifically, Sudan and Somalia, two of the most unstable countries of the Horn, have witnessed major civil wars and instances of lower-level inter-communal conflicts between pastoralist groups who constitute a large portion of the population in both states. Inter-communal conflicts are largely fought between pastoralists and influenced by resource scarcity in semi-arid and arid regions. This paper analyzes the multiple and entangled sources of inter-communal conflicts in Sudan and Somalia from 1970 to 2000 to assess the relationship between environmental, political and social dynamics in a region of the world increasingly affected by environmental degradation and global warming, and evolving in a tensed political setting.


No 3 (2017): Altered Allegiances: Indian Soldiers, Non-Combatants, and Revolutionaries during the Balkan and First World Wars

At the beginning of the 20th century, in the years encompassing the First World War, diverging views on colonial rule and securing self-rule were spreading in the Indian subcontinent. When the First World War broke out, many leading revolutionaries encouraged allegiance to the British in their war effort as a means of proving capability for self-rule. Nevertheless, among Indians from different social classes, allegiances were mitigated or reified according to various situations that arose, including the treatment of Indians under British command on the battlefield and official British attitudes towards the Ottoman Caliphate before and after the war. By examining the life work of Dr. Mukhtar Ansari, who led a medical mission from India to the Ottoman Empire during the Balkan Wars, and that of the Indian sepoys in Mesopotamia in 1915-1916, this paper explores the changed and bargained allegiances affected by religious, ethnic, and colonial contexts.


No 2 (2016): Three Shi‘a Poets: Sect-Related Themes in Pre-Modern Urdu Poetry

This paper examines the ways in which sectarian differences were approached by three major Hindustani poets: Sauda, Mir and Ghalib. These poets evoked, acknowledged, played upon, and even enjoyed Sunni-Shi‘ite differences without the situation always reaching some kind of instantaneous flashpoint of sectarian “tension”. Contrary to recent arguments that sectarian affiliation can be discerned through evidence of ritual practice of pilgrimage and paying respect to the shrines of certain historical personages of spiritual importance, in the Indian environment, as no doubt elsewhere also, it appears difficult to pin down sectarian affiliation from rituals and expressions of respect and devotion to the Prophet’s household.

No 1 (2016): “Our Little Piratical Intentions”: Select Narratives of British Abolition in East Africa, 1849-1873

This paper examines efforts of the British Royal Navy to abolish the slave trade along the East African coast in the mid-nineteenth century through the select narratives of George L. Sulivan and William Cope Devereux. The abolition campaign was weakened by numerous factors, including the Royal Navy’s lack of instruction, organization and central command. I argue that these problems resulted in various acts of misconduct by British Navy men. Increasingly, compensation and “success” depended upon antagonistic relationships with slave traders, Zanzibari locals, Omani elite and other European agents. 

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