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Indian Ocean Slavery in the Age of Abolition$
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Robert Harms, Bernard K Freamon, and David W. Blight

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780300163872

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300163872.001.0001

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Social Mobility in Indian Ocean Slavery

Social Mobility in Indian Ocean Slavery

The Strange Career of Sultan bin Aman

Chapter:
(p.143) 8 Social Mobility in Indian Ocean Slavery
Source:
Indian Ocean Slavery in the Age of Abolition
Author(s):

Abdul Sheriff

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300163872.003.0008

Chapter 8 examines manumission documents created by British imperial authorities in the early twentieth century. It notes that in the Persian Gulf, slaves were freed under Islamic law or by British consular officials on allegations of mistreatment. It recounts the life of Sultan bin Aman, an Ethiopian slave first freed by the British in Zanzibar, who traveled to the Persian Gulf and was re-enslaved, then manumitted again by the British. While enslaved, Sultan was permitted to transact business on his own account, and was quite successful until he lost his assets in a shipping accident and was declared bankrupt by an Arab creditors’ committee. He sought a manumission certificate from the British, but it did not help him. The account exposes the broad penumbra between slavery and freedom in the Persian Gulf, the impracticality of piecemeal manumissions, and the legal pluralism regarding Islamic and British laws governing slavery and bankruptcy.

Keywords:   manumissions, Sultan bin Aman, Islamic bankruptcy law, legal pluralism, Persian Gulf

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