25 Park Place, Atlanta, GA


Piracy in the Horn of Africa and Arabian seaboards has been a major dynamic of modern geopolitics of the Western Indian Ocean (and very dramatically so in recent months), and the phenomenon of maritime predation is certainly not new in the region.  Moreover, the notion of thieves of the high seas is visible in medieval Arabic sources.  As in other world contexts, the very definition of the terms “piracy” and “naval predation,” is of the essence.  For the period between the 7th  and the 16th  century, the maritime and naval capability of large and small polities active in the Red Sea area has been the subject of recent scholarship that is contributing new data and concepts, enhancing our understanding of regional and trans regional economic networks and the development of premodern states. This inquiry also illuminates long-term structures, such as the role of islands and maritime geography in general, that can illuminate more recent events through comparison and contrast. This presentation will outline relevant sources and concepts, and comment on the recent historiography. Roxani Eleni Margariti is an Associate Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies at Emory University. She is the author of Aden and the Indian Ocean Trade: 150 Years in the Life of a Medieval Arabian Port (University of North Carolina Press, 2007) and is currently completing a book manuscript entitled Insular Crossroads: The Dahlak Archipelago, Red Sea Islands, and Indian Ocean History, in which she examines the history of a Muslim, island polity in medieval and early modern times. She also co-authors an academic blog Archives of the Sea.

Event Details

  • Allen Fromherz

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