Introduction: Maritime History and the Indian Ocean World

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


A reader scanning the table of contents of this book will note at once that there are several different genres of history included in the collection. Some of the chapters focus on a particular area or product, whereas some take a much more overarching view. Some can be considered to be contributing to a particular “theory,” while others are more empirical studies, designed to prove a point, not construct a theory. Nevertheless, there are in fact strong similarities, which transcend what may appear to be random diversity. Most obviously, all focus on the Indian Ocean or some part of it. Most of them deal with the ocean before any impact from Europe, or at least before capitalism. In itself this is valuable, for we need to remember that there was a coherent and integrated Indian Ocean long before Europeans arrived. Much earlier writings on the ocean have concentrated on trade, but while economic factors are certainly central in this book, other matters are by no means ignored. Perhaps most important, all of these chapters contribute, either explicitly or implicitly, to the broader field of maritime history, demonstrating its strengths and problems. My task in this short introduction is to expand on these themes to show how in their totality these eight chapters, ostensibly diverse, in fact make a coherent contribution to our theme of “Trade, Circulation and Flow in the Indian Ocean World.”


Indian Ocean World History Port City Early Modern Period Merchant Guild 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Michael Pearson 2015

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  • Michael Pearson

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