“This long-awaited study by Abdul Sheriff adds significant richness in both its wealth of detail and meticulous analysis to our understanding of the rise of Omani Zanzibar and its changing place in the world economy. His prodigious archival research combines with his critical approach to Marxist theory to produce a convincing and stimulating interpretation of this critically important state during a major period of transition in the history of Eastern Africa.”
Professor Edward A. Alpers of the University of California, Los Angeles
The rise of Zanzibar was based on two major economic transformations. Firstly slaves became used for producing cloves and grains for export. Previously the slaves themselves were exported.
Secondly, there was an increased international demand for luxuries such as ivory. At the same time the price of imported manufactured gods was falling. Zanzibar took advantage of its strategic position to trade as far as the Great Lakes.
However this very economic success increasingly subordinated Zanzibar to Britain, with its anti-slavery crusade and its control over the Indian merchant class.
Professor Sheriff analyses the early stages of the underdevelopment of East Africa and provides a corrective to the dominance of political and diplomatic factors in the history of the area.
Abdul Sheriff is a professor of history at the University of Dar es Salaam and the author of The History and Conservation of Zanzibar Stone Town and coeditor of Zanzibar under Colonial Rule. He is also the principal curator of Zanzibar Museums. More info →
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Zanzibar Stone Town presents the problems of conservation in its most acute forms. Should it be fossilized for the tourists? Or should it grow for the benefit of the inhabitants? Can ways be found to accommodate conflicting social and economic pressures?For its size, Zanzibar, like Venice, occupies a remarkably large romantic space in world imagination. Swahili civilization on these spice islands goes back to the earliest centuries of the Islamic era.
Conventional history assumes that the rise of the steamship trade killed off the Indian Ocean dhow trade in the twentieth century. Erik Gilbert argues that the dhow economy played a major role in shaping the economic and social life of colonial Zanzibar. Dhows, and the regional trade they fostered, allowed a class of indigenous entrepreneurs to thrive in Zanzibar.
Zanzibar stands at the center of the Indian Ocean system’s involvement in the history of Eastern Africa. This book follows on from the period covered in Abdul Sheriff’s acclaimed Slaves, Spices and Ivory in Zanzibar.The first part of the book shows the transition of Zanzibar from the commercial economy of the nineteenth century to the colonial economy of the twentieth century.The authors begin with the abolition of the slave trade in 1873 that started the process of transformation.
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