Introduction: Slave Traders and the Western Indian Ocean
This introductory chapter highlights the two main interrelated questions which the author will challenge throughout the book: Who profited from the slave trade in the nineteenth-century western Indian Ocean? Did the Indian Ocean as a unit of history collapse after the suppression of this trade? It is pointed out that few studies focus on slave traders, but because of the inseparable nature of the slave trade with other ‘general’ trade, this topic has huge potential to shed light on the latter. In this regard, this topic also enables us to re-examine the fate of the Indian Ocean world per se, as its economy and cohesiveness are commonly regarded to have collapsed in the mid-eighteenth century.