Dr. Hollian Wint will present her work titled "Creole Contracts: Rethinking the Problem of Trust in Indian Ocean Commerce".
In the nineteenth century, dense networks of credit, capital, and commodities connected the coastal and interior societies of East Africa to producers and consumers in the Persian Gulf and western India. Most studies of these Indian Ocean commercial linkages focus on culturally-bounded trading networks, explaining the organization of proto-capitalist and pre-colonial commerce through the categories of family capital and community trust. Yet the benefits of family capital did not always outweigh its costs and the success of Indian Ocean traders depended on tactically claiming and denying family support and obligations. Rethinking the relationship between trust and intimacy in regional commerce, this talk foregrounds the inter-communal relationships--between Indians, Arabs, and Africans--and inter-vernacular contractual conversions--between Arabic and Gujarati--that were at the core of Indian Ocean 'creole' capitalism.