© 2018

Bondage and the Environment in the Indian Ocean World

  • Gwyn Campbell

Part of the Palgrave Series in Indian Ocean World Studies book series (IOWS)

About this book


Monsoon rains, winds, and currents have shaped patterns of production and exchange in the Indian Ocean world (IOW) for centuries. Consequently, as this volume demonstrates, the environment has also played a central role in determining the region’s systems of bondage and human trafficking. Contributors trace intricate links between environmental forces, human suffering, and political conditions, examining how they have driven people into servile labour and shaped the IOW economy. They illuminate the complexities of IOW bondage with case studies, drawn chiefly from the mid-eighteenth century, on Sudan, Cape Colony, Réunion, China, and beyond, where chattel slavery (as seen in the Atlantic world) represented only one extreme of a wide spectrum of systems of unfree labour. The array of factors examined here, including climate change, environmental disaster, disease, and market forces, are central to IOW history—and to modern-day forms of human bondage.


Indian Ocean Environment Slavery and the environment Abolition in Indian Ocean Enslavement History of slave trade Indian ocean slave trade Tan Emperor Wu Zong Swahili Slave Export Trade Slave resistance Global climate Cyclones slave transporters environmental disaster slavery in Africa Indian Ocean slave traffickers Indian Ocean environmental history

Editors and affiliations

  • Gwyn Campbell
    • 1
  1. 1.Indian Ocean World CentreMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

About the editors

Gwyn Campbell is Canada Research Chair and Founding Director of the Indian Ocean World Centre at McGill University, Canada. He is also the editor of the Palgrave Series in Indian Ocean World Studies, the founder and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Indian Ocean World Studies, and a recipient of the Humboldt Research Award (2017-2019).

Bibliographic information


“The long-term climate cycles of the rather expansive “Indian Ocean World” covered here, citing an impressive array of technical climate studies, attempts to distinguish debt-bondage from slavery … . World historians of many persuasions will accordingly find useful reminders of the climate component … in which they work and of the essential historicity of slaving.” (Joseph C. Miller, Journal of World History, Vol. 29 (4), December, 2018)