The World of the Indian Ocean, 1500–1800: Studies in Economic, Social and Cultural History, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The World of the Indian Ocean, 1500–1800

Studies in Economic, Social and Cultural History, 1st Edition

By M.N. Pearson


336 pages

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Hardback: 9780860789628
pub: 2005-04-20

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The articles in The World of the Indian Ocean, 1500-1800 describe the activities of people living on the coasts of the Indian Ocean, generously defined, during the early modern period. Most are based, at least in part, on Portuguese materials. A broad theme linking them all is the claim that in most areas of society and economy early modern Europeans and Asians had much in common, with the newly arrived Europeans having no particular advantage over their Asian interlocutors. The first five studies discuss aspects of trade and commerce, while the next group deal with social and religious themes, including conversions and a much quoted early attempt to investigate 'littoral society'. The third section presents four discussions of aspects of the early contact between Indian and European medical systems.


'One of the most eminent scholars in the field of Indian Ocean studies, Pearson’s wide-ranging oeuvre displays a certain unity in diversity…It is to be hoped that the new maritime history of the Indian Ocean will explore some of the directions plotted out here and elsewhere by Pearson.' Itinerario '… this book will surely provide inspiration and insights to many an Indian scholar of Indo-Portuguese or Maritime history.' Indica

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Economic and Trade History: Spain and Spanish trade in southeast Asia; Brokers in western Indian port cities: their role in servicing foreign merchants; Goa-based seaborne trade, 17th-18th centuries; Asia and world precious metal flows in the early modern period; Indians in East Africa: the early modern period. Social and Religious Themes: Littoral society: the case for the coast; Goa during the first century of Portuguese rule; Conversions in south-east Asia: evidence from the Portuguese records; The search for the similar: early contacts between Portuguese and Indians; Gateways to Africa: the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea; The East African coast in 1498: a synchronic study. Medical Exchanges: Hindu medical practice in sixteenth-century western India: evidence from the Portuguese records; The Portuguese state and medicine in sixteenth-century Goa; The thin end of the wedge: medical relativities as a paradigm of early modern Indian-European relations; First contacts between Indian and European medical systems: Goa in the sixteenth century. Index.

About the Author

M.N. Pearson is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of New South Wales, Australia.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General