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Malik Ambar

Power and Slavery Across the Indian Ocean

Omar H. Ali

18 February 2016

ISBN: 9780190269784

176 pages

In Stock

Price: £18.99



Part of The World in A Life series, this brief, inexpensive text provides insight into the life of slave soldier Malik Ambar. Malik Ambar: Power and Slavery across the Indian Ocean offers a rare look at an individual who began in obscurity in eastern Africa and reached the highest levels of South Asian political and military affairs in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

  • Reconstructs and reveals the world of trade, slavery, politics and cultural diffusion that transformed Malik Ambar from a slave to a de facto ruler
  • Takes the reader on a journey from Abyssinia to Mocha, Baghdad, and the Deccan in India
  • Provides an example of an African who rose to international prominence during a period when few Africans did so

About the Author(s)

Omar H. Ali

Omar H. Ali is Associate Professor of Comparative African Diaspora History and Interim Dean of Lloyd International Honors College at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is the author of several books, including the forthcoming Islam in the Indian Ocean World: A Brief History with Documents (2016).

Table of Contents

    List of Illustrations
    List of Maps
    Cast of Characters
    About the Author
    Chapter 1. Oromo, Abyssinia, and War
    Chapter 2. Mocha, Baghdad, and Beyond
    Chapter 3. The Deccan and Military Slavery
    Chapter 4. Ahmednagar and 'Fidelity to Salt'
    Chapter 5. Rebels, Regency, and Race
    Chapter 6. Bargi-Giri, Diplomacy, and Defense
    Chapter 7. The People and the Battle of Bhatvadi
    Chapter 8. Justice, Land Reform, and Legacy
    Chapter 9: Abyssinian Defender of the Deccan
    Primary Source Excerpts and Study Questions
    Further Reading


"Writing in an engaging and imaginative style, Omar H. Ali does a remarkable job of reconstructing the most scholarly and accessible account yet published of this remarkable African leader. Drawing upon both previous studies of Malik Ambar and a rich trove of primary documents from Indian history, he further enhances our understanding of Ambar with field research in both Ethiopia and India." - Ned Alpers, University of California, Los Angeles

"In a lively and well-researched narrative Omar H. Ali follows the footsteps of an exceptional man while painting a vivid portrait of a unique and complex society molded by the cultures, languages, and religions of multiple continents. It is a fascinating story of slavery, freedom, power, and transformations." - Sylviane A. Diouf, Director of the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery and Curator at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of The New York Public Library

"While the story of Malik Ambar's fascinating life is a key to understanding major cultural and political exchanges across the Indian Ocean, it is also the moving and inspiring tale of an African boy who grows up to become an Indian king. This succinct biography by Omar H. Ali allows the reader to plunge into the cosmopolitan world of the Deccan courts, where Abyssinian slaves and noblemen played an important role in political and military affairs. Ambar's talents, which extended from warfare to diplomacy, placed him at the center of events that shaped the seventeenth century. This book adds new perspectives to his early life and to the complex forces that took him across the Indian Ocean, and offers fresh insight into how he found his place in India." - Navina Haidar, Curator, Department of Islamic Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art