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Merchants, Mamluks, and Murder: The Political Economy of Trade in Eighteenth-Century Basra


A historiography of Ottoman Basra, a trade center in the eighteenth century.
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A historiography of Ottoman Basra, a trade center in the eighteenth century.
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Editorial Reviews

Using the case of the murder of a Jewish merchant in 1791 as the backdrop for this study of Ottoman Basra's long-distance trade in the 18th century, Abdullah (history, York University) takes a comparative approach to Middle Eastern and Indian Ocean historiography. He examines broad issues which have direct bearing on the case of the merchant, including the overall nature of Basra trade, the city's large wholesale merchants, and the gradual development in Basra of the "soft areas" in Asian economics through which incorporation into the capitalist world economy took place. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of Maps, Tables, and Figures


Note on Transliteration

Note on Currency



1. Al-Basrah Al-Fayha'

History up to 1700
Hasan Pasha and the Mamluks
Location and Climate
The City
The People
Administration & Power

2. The Shifting Fortunes of Trade

Customs Duties
The Ships and Their Sailors
Basra's Overall Trade Patterns
Rise: 1724-1774
Boom: 1766-1774
Decline: 1775-1793

3. Networks of Trade

The Maritime Trade with India
The Coffee Trade and the Role of the Omanis
The Regional Trade with the Gulf
The Trade with Southern Persia
The Riverine Trade with Baghdad
The Caravan Trade with Aleppo

4. The Merchants (Tujjar) and Trade

The Risks of Trade
Investment and Wealth
Credit and Contracts
Merchant Communities
The Jewish Merchant
The Armenian Merchants
The Chalabis of Basra

5. The Merchants and Power

The Mamluks and Trade
The Chalabis and the Government
The Cases of Muhammad Agha and Hajji Yusuf
The Jews and the Mamluk Administration
The Armenians and the English
The Case of the Murdered Jew Revisited
The Rebellions of Shaykh and Mustafa Agha
Manesty's Victory and the Beginnings of British Dominance





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