Accepted paper:

"To Show the British Flag": Dhow Sailors and the Slave Trade in the Making of British Jurisdiction in the Western Indian Ocean

Authors:

Nidhi Mahajan

Paper short abstract:

Focusing on encounters between dhow sailors, and British officials in context of abolition in the Indian Ocean in the nineteenth century, this paper highlights how competing understandings subjecthood and jurisdiction shaped emergent ideas about sovereignty in the Indian Ocean.

Paper long abstract:

British abolitionist discourse in the Indian Ocean in the nineteenth century conjoined the slave trade with piracy, using humanitarian arguments to suppress both, whilst turning the Indian Ocean into a "British lake." Reading closely the journals of British naval officers and a court case, this paper argues that the extension of British jurisdiction into the Indian Ocean from Oman to East Africa was not a seamless process, but was marked by illegibility. Naval patrol officers were unable to differentiate between the legal and illegal slave trade in this space. Focusing on encounters between dhow sailors and British officials, this paper highlights how competing understandings subjecthood and jurisdiction in the contested space shaped emergent ideas about sovereignty in the Indian Ocean.

panel P142
Migration and "in-between" Logistics: Recruiters, Agencies, Brokers and Transport Workers