AAA Annual Meeting Program

AAA Annual Meeting Program Details


View Session Details
Paper Information:
Type: Paper
Paper Title: DEBT AND COMMERCIAL TRANSACTIONS IN THE INDIAN OCEAN ECONOMY: AN ETHNO-ARCHAEOLOGICAL APPROACH
Author: RAHUL OKA (University of Notre Dame), CHAPURUKHA KUSIMBA   
Date/Time: Fri., 1:45 PM
Co-Author(s): RAHUL OKA (University of Notre Dame), CHAPURUKHA KUSIMBA 
Abstract: Debt is one of the primary structuring factors in human socio-economic interactions. Usually seen in the form of assets, goods, services, and/or favors that are due under a form of obligatory reciprocity, debt relationships are ubiquitous in all forms of interactions, from the reciprocal exchange networks of foragers to large-scale commercial transactions in “complex societies.” In this paper, we examine the role played by “debt” and indebtedness in structuring the commercial transactions between African and Asian merchants active in the ports of Mtwapa (East Africa) and Chaul (Western India) between 1400-1800 C.E. Data from ethnographic research on these trading groups will be used to address: a) how merchants conceptualized “debt” and “indebtedness” within their networks and between merchants and political elites of these ports, and b) how merchants used debt and credit relations to manage the commercial exchange of goods? The ethnographic analysis suggests that debt relationships within different trading groups and between trading and political elites change as agents respond to conditions of socio-political and economic stability. We argue that these changes in debt relationships and indebtedness result in the rise and fall of the fortunes of the different trading and political elite families and can be tested through archaeological and archaeometric analysis. Specifically, we will show how the changes in the distribution of prestige ceramics within and between elite localities in the ports of Chaul and Mtwapa from 1400-1700 C.E. are the results of the shifts in debt management among the merchants and political elites of these ports.

Program Number: 3-0830
Session Title: MATERIALIZING AND EMBODYING DEBT
Session Sponsor: Archaeology Division
Session Date/Time: Fri., 1:45 PM-5:30 PM
Organizer(s): CHARLES COBB, MARK HAUSER (Northwestern University) 
Chair(s): ANN STAHL (University of Victoria)  
View Session Details


Schedule-at-a-Glance

If you have any questions about the program, please contact the AAA Meetings Department at aaameetings@aaanet.org.