Red Sea Citizens

Red Sea Citizens

Cosmopolitan Society and Cultural Change in Massawa
Miran, Jonathan
Distribution: World
Publication date: 07/06/2009
Format: Paperback 35 b&w photos, 5 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-22079-0
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In the late 19th century, the port of Massawa, in Eritrea on the Red Sea, was a thriving, vibrant, multiethnic commercial hub. Red Sea Citizens tells the story of how Massawa rose to prominence as one of Northeast Africa's most important shipping centers. Jonathan Miran reconstructs the social, material, religious, and cultural history of this mercantile community in a period of sweeping change. He shows how Massawa and its citizens benefited from migrations across the Indian Ocean, the Arabian peninsula, Egypt, and the African interior. Miran also notes the changes that took place in Massawa as traders did business and eventually settled. By revealing the dynamic processes at play, this book provides insight into the development of the Horn of Africa that extends beyond borders and boundaries, nations and nationalism.

Author Bio

Jonathan Miran is Assistant Professor of Islamic Civilization in the Department of Liberal Studies at Western Washington University.


[A] mature and competent expression of social history [that will be] extremely important in the context of Northeast African historiography because of its alternative approach.[A]n original and very substantial contribution to the growing literature on the Indian Ocean world in the 19th century.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Facing the Land, Facing the Sea
1. Making a Region Between the Sea and the Mountain: Na'ib Autonomy and Dominance, to the 1850s
2. On Camels and Boats: Spaces, Structures and Circuits of Production and Exchange
3. Connecting Sea and Land: Merchants, Brokers, and the Anatomy of a Red Sea Port Town
4. "A Sacred Muslim Island": Sufis, Holy Men, and Town Islam in Massawa and the Interior
5. "Being Massawan": Citizenship, Family, and Urban Authority