Aims of the Project

This is what we are trying to do.

The Indian Ocean Slave Trade Project aims to provide both scholars and the public with accessible and easily navigable information on the Indian Ocean slave trade during the 19th and 20th centuries. Like the Atlantic slave trade, millions of Africans and other peoples were abducted and transported across the Indian Ocean to work as slaves in foreign lands. In contrast to the Atlantic slave trade, however, which boasts an extensive scholarly literature and a greater public awareness, few publicly available resources are devoted to the study of the Indian Ocean slave trade. In order to increase awareness of the legacy of the Indian Ocean slave trade and to facilitate further study, we have provided an interactive map tracing both individual and collective slave routes as well as examples and analyses of slaves’ individual and collective experiences.

In doing so, we hope that this project will complement similar mapping projects and publicly available resources on the routes and experiences of the Atlantic slave trade and to provide both scholars and the public with a better understanding of slavery as a global phenomenon and its eventual abolition. This project currently emphasizes the East African slave trade to the Persian Gulf, but we intend to expand the project to include slave routes and experiences in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen, the Red Sea, Egypt, Sudan, and from East Africa to the Atlantic world in the near future.