Slaves of One Master


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Globalization and Slavery in Arabia in the Age of Empire

Matthew S. Hopper

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In this wide-ranging history of the African diaspora and slavery in Arabia in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Matthew S. Hopper examines the interconnected themes of enslavement, globalization, and empire and challenges previously held conventions regarding Middle Eastern slavery and British imperialism. Whereas conventional historiography regards the Indian Ocean slave trade as fundamentally different from its Atlantic counterpart, Hopper’s study argues that both systems were influenced by global economic forces. The author goes on to dispute the triumphalist antislavery narrative that attributes the end of the slave trade between East Africa and the Persian Gulf to the efforts of the British Royal Navy, arguing instead that Great Britain allowed the inhuman practice to continue because it was vital to the Gulf economy and therefore vital to British interests in the region.
Hopper’s book links the personal stories of enslaved Africans to the impersonal global commodity chains their labor enabled, demonstrating how the growing demand for workers created by a global demand for Persian Gulf products compelled the enslavement of these people and their transportation to eastern Arabia. His provocative and deeply researched history fills a salient gap in the literature on the African diaspora.

Matthew S. Hopper is associate professor in the history department at California Polytechnic State University. He lives in Atascadero, CA.

“With persistence and superb detective work, Matthew Hopper has put together an excellent history of slavery and the slave trade in the Persian Gulf, a trade fueled by the international market for dates and pearls. This a major contribution to understanding slavery in the Middle East.”—Martin Klein, University of Toronto

“Matthew Hopper successfully challenges a number of preconceptions historians have held for some time. Slaves of One Master connects slavery in eastern Arabia to histories of consumption in Europe and the United States, and this dimension brings the book alive.”—Pier M. Larson, The Johns Hopkins University

"Matthew Hopper's Slaves of One Master is a well-written and valuable addition to our understanding of the East Africa slave trade and globalization of the Indian Ocean economy. . . . He has provided a new and deeper understanding of the Indian Ocean slave trade, the institution of slavery in Arabia, and the workings of Arabian Gulf economies."—Calvin H. Allen Jr., Middle East Media & Book Reviews

"[Matthew Hopper] takes an incredibly difficult subject and manages to present a narrative that is both simple in its outlines and compelling in its broad dimensions and implications—a coup if there ever was one."—Fahad Ahmad Bishara, Itinerario

Slaves of One Master will become a must-read book in all courses dealing with enslavement, globally and regionally. Its language and flow make it highly accessible to students, scholars, and members of the public interested in the social and economic history of Muslim-majority countries.”—Ehud R. Toledano, American Historical Review

"Hopper’s book is a thorough, intelligent piece of research on an elusive topic."—Joseph C. Miller, Journal of World History

Finalist for the 2016 Frederick Douglass Book Prize, given by the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition.
ISBN: 9780300192018
Publication Date: August 25, 2015
320 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
24 b/w illus.