Saturday, July 22, 2017

Indian Ocean Slavery: Excellent Essays

Here are a series of excellent essays (nine in all) about slavery in the Indian Ocean in the 17th and 18th Centuries.  All of them are written by Karen Williams for Media Diversified.  Williams works in media and human rights in Asia and Africa.

Some of the essays are ideal for the classroom, especially in AP World when we cover the early modern period between 1450 and 1750. Two of my favorites include "The Indonesian anti-colonial roots of Islam in South Africa"and "Slave narratives from Dutch colonisation in Indonesia."

Williams explains how Islam spread to South Africa in the first essay.  She notes that exiled Indonesian scholars and royalty first spread Islam among South Africa's poor population. She traces the establishment of Islam to two key figures. One, Sheikh Yusuf,  was part of the anti-Dutch resistance and a key figure among slaves. She suggests that he established the first Muslim community at Colony in 1697.

The other key figure in the development of Islam in South Africa was Tuan Guru, who came to South Africa as a prisoner from Indonesia’s Trinate Islands. When he was released form his twelve year prison sentence, he established the first Muslim school (madrassa) and mosque in the 1790's.

In the second essay about Dutch colonization in Indonesia,  Williams examines the nature of Dutch colonization through the Dutch East India Company (VOC).  Specifically, she looks at  the Dutch colonization of Batavia in 1621 when they razed the existing city of Jakarta along with the existing  royal residences. They established a huge slave market referred to as the "Batavian Institution."  We learn about that slave market through the movement of one South African slave called Doman.

Williams offers a fascinating tour of the Batavian slave market and how it forged "historical links across the Indian Ocean between Indonesia and South Africa."

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