Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

A book that examines maritime trade and transnational merchants requires its own global diaspora of scholars, librarians, archivists, businesspeople, friends, and family. People across the globe have helped me in this endeavor, and it is impossible to adequately thank all of them for their contributions. For lack of space or knowledge, many I have relied upon remain unnamed...

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Note on Terms and Transliteration

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pp. xv-xvi

In this book, I have assumed that the reader is not familiar with the many languages used around the Arabian Sea. Wherever they exist, I use common English spellings for words in languages other than English. When there is a direct citation from a source text, I use the transliterations in the source text. For Arabic and Persian terms and phrases that I transliterate myself I have...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-20

Capital cannot abide a limit.1 The incessant drive for profit pushes businessmen and corporations to overcome all barriers to growth. Taxes are minimized, regulations are circumvented, and borders are turned into endless frontiers for expansion. According to this logic, smuggling is the ultimate form of free trade.2 No less an authority than Adam Smith absolved...

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One. Commoditizing Transport

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pp. 21-51

Dhows in the arabian sea are the very image of the romantic Orient: sails billowing in the wind, half-naked brown men climbing up a raking mast, and perhaps some whitewashed Saracenic architecture in the background. Photographs of dhows intimate a world on the verge of extinction: they capitalize on nostalgia and the charm of anachronism...

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Two. Trafficking Labor

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pp. 52-81

As political agent in muscat, S. B. Miles had heard some strange excuses from slave traders, but Abdulla al-Kasadi’s excuse was stranger than fiction. Abdulla al-Kasadi, a merchant from the Hadhramout valley in present-day Yemen, was returning from a long sojourn in the Indian princely state of Hyderabad. Accompanying him were his family as well as two young...

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Three. Disarming Commerce

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pp. 82-112

Ratansi Purshottam was ruined by the SS Baluchistan. With its stumpy topmasts and bland, functional exterior, the SS Baluchistan did not look particularly nefarious. Yet this ship carried in its hold a cargo that threatened to explode the foundations of the free market. In the winter of 1897–98, the SS Baluchistan set off on a six-week journey from London...

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Four. Neutralizing Money

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pp. 113-142

Ganga Ram had a brilliant plan. It was the end of May 1940, and wartime conditions had caused a surge in the price of gold in Iraq and around the Gulf. The British government had prohibited the export of gold from India; nevertheless, merchants, sailors, and ordinary travelers from India packed gold sovereigns in their luggage and made staggering profits selling...

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Five. Valorizing Markets

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pp. 143-172

An invoice seems like a rather boring object. It is a bill, a piece of paper that documents a transaction. A seller sends a specified quantity x of goods to a buyer and requests that the specified price y be remitted. Such documents are produced and transmitted millions of times each day across the world. Few documents are more mundane. But when is an invoice sent...

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Conclusion

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pp. 173-180

In the late 1940s, Mastan Mirza, a dockworker on the Bombay waterfront, was approached by an Arab who called himself Sheikh Mohammed alGhalib. Al-Ghalib asked the dockworker to assist him in smuggling a few watches and gold biscuits past customs. Mastan agreed, and when the appointed time arrived he surreptitiously slipped some watches and gold into...

Abbreviations Used in Notes

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pp. 181-182

Notes

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pp. 183-218

Bibliography

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pp. 219-238

Index

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pp. 239-250