Slaves, Spices, and Ivory in Zanzibar: Integration of an East African Commercial Empire into the World Economy, 1770-1873

Slaves, Spices, and Ivory in Zanzibar: Integration of an East African Commercial Empire into the World Economy, 1770-1873

Slaves, Spices, and Ivory in Zanzibar: Integration of an East African Commercial Empire into the World Economy, 1770-1873

Slaves, Spices, and Ivory in Zanzibar: Integration of an East African Commercial Empire into the World Economy, 1770-1873

Synopsis

The rise of Zanzibar was based on two major economic transformations: firstly, slaves became used for the production of cloves and grain for export, instead of the slaves themselves being exported; secondly there was an increased demand for luxuries such as ivory and Zanzibar took advantage of its strategic position to trade as far as the Great Lakes. Yet this economic success increasingly subordinated Zanzibar to Britain, with its anti-slavery crusade and its control over the Indian merchant class. North America: Ohio U Press; Kenya: EAEP

Excerpt

The publication of a book so many years after the completion of the doctoral thesis on which it is based requires an explanation, if not an apology. African historiography has been going through such rapid changes since the coming of independence from colonial rule in the early 1960s that any extended piece of research has had to contend with strong intellectual eddies if not outright contrary currents. History has become one of the battlegrounds for contending ideological forces trying to interpret the past in terms of the present, and vice-versa. The perspective depends very much on one's vantage point, not only in geographical terms between Africa and the Western metropoles, but even more importantly in philosophical terms.

The research for the thesis was done in the late 1960s partly in the United States, France and India, but largely in London which has a well- established scholarly tradition and unrivalled research facilities. I owe to Professor Richard Gray, who supervised the thesis, as well as other scholars at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, an enormous debt in initiating me into what may be termed the SOAS school of African history which has obtained its fullest expression in the Cambridge History of Africa.

Halfway through my research I went to the University of Dar es Salaam to teach for a year, and I found myself in the middle of an intense philosophical debate on the nature of African history, reflecting the changes that Africa was then going through. It had already given rise to what came to be called the Dar es Salaam school of nationalist history which was bent on discovering the African initiative in history that colonialism seemed to have obliterated. The approach is best summarised in Professor Terence Ranger's inaugural lecture and demonstrated in the History of Tanzania edited byI. N. Kimambo andA. J. Temu. But the school was already being challenged by the emerging 'radical' school influenced initially by the Latin American theory of underdevelopment and dependency, and later by Marxist theory. The atmosphere was vivacious and from it emerged Walter Rodney How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, and a series of three conferences on the history of Tanzania, Kenya . . .

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