Aden & the Indian Ocean Trade: 150 Years in the Life of a Medieval Arabian Port

Aden & the Indian Ocean Trade: 150 Years in the Life of a Medieval Arabian Port

Aden & the Indian Ocean Trade: 150 Years in the Life of a Medieval Arabian Port

Aden & the Indian Ocean Trade: 150 Years in the Life of a Medieval Arabian Port

Synopsis

Positioned at the crossroads of the maritime routes linking the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, the Yemeni port of Aden grew to be one of the medieval world's greatest commercial hubs.

Excerpt

Aden and the Indian Ocean Trade: 150 Years in the Life of a Medieval Arabian Port is the sixth volume to be published in our series, Islamic Civilization and Muslim Networks.

Why make Islamic civilization and Muslim networks the theme of a new series? The study of Islam and Muslim societies is often marred by an overly fractured approach that frames Islam as the polar opposite of what “Westerners” are supposed to represent and advocate. Islam has been objectified as the obverse of the Euro-American societies that self-identify as “the West.” Political and economic trends have reinforced a habit of localizing Islam in the “volatile” Middle Eastern region. Marked as dangerous foreigners, Muslims are also demonized as regressive outsiders who reject modernity. The negative accent in media headlines about Islam creates a common tendency to refer to Islam and Muslims as being somewhere “over there,” in another space and another mind-set from the so-called rational, progressive, democratic West.

Ground-level facts tell another story. The social reality of Muslim cultures extends beyond the Middle East. It includes South and Southeast Asia, Africa, and China. It also includes the millennial presence of Islam in Europe and the increasingly significant American Muslim community. In different places and eras, it is Islam that has been the pioneer of reason, Muslims who have been the standardbearers of progress. Muslims remain integral to “our” world; they are inseparable from the issues and conflicts of transregional, panoptic world history.

By itself, the concept of Islamic civilization serves as a useful counterweight to that of Western civilization, undermining the triumphalist framing of history that was reinforced first by colonial . . .

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