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The Two Arms of Cambay: Diasporic Texts of Ecumenical Islam in the Indian Ocean

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Long-distance trade, entailing as it does repeated exchanges across countries and cultures, often brings in its train consequences beyond the exchange of goods and specie. As other exchanges—of warfare, kinship, supplication, devotion—thicken social relations across routes pioneered by trade, new ways of imagining society across a larger space emerge. This paper examines the transcultural work that may be performed to create such enlarged imaginations of society, with a particular reference to the Hadramis of Yemen. In such ways, we suggest that a world religion, such as Islam, can give specific cultural shape to the distant horizons of world trade, as both expanded across the Indian Ocean over the past five centuries. Le commerce de longue distance impliquait des échanges répétés entre régions et cultures; il en entraînait souvent d'autres qui, tels la guerre, les liens de parenté, les actes cultuels, renfor çaient les relations sociales, suscitant de nouvelles perspectives d'approches de la société sur une plus large échelle. Fondée plus particulièrement sur le cas des Hadramis du Yémen, cette contribution examinera les études transculturelles à mener pour appréhender une plus large société. Il est ainsi suggéré qu'une religion universelle, l'Islam, a pu apporter quelque forme culturelle spécifique au commerce mondial quand, durant les cinq derniers siècles, ils se déploient de concert sur l'Océan indien.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, USA


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