[We have the following announcement from the 2018 Annual Meeting of the ASLH.]
The 2018 Stein Book Award winner is Fahad A. Bishara, University of Virginia, for A Sea of Debt: Law and Economic Life in the Western Indian Ocean, 1780-1950 (Cambridge University Press, 2017).
Fahad A. Bishara’s Sea of Debt is an ambitious and imaginatively conceived study that shows how law was a crucial force in tying together actors across the western Indian Ocean. Bishara follows Islamic law and its paperwork as they circulated between the Arabian Peninsula and East Africa. We learn how merchants from South Asia engaged with Islamic legal norms and institutions, and how all of this shifted as the British imperial presence intensified from the 1860s. Sea of Debt’s use of Arabic sources is particularly impressive, and sets the book apart from much work on the British imperial world. Illuminating the intersection of law and capitalism from Muscat to Mombasa (with a special focus on Zanzibar), Sea of Debt reveals how local actors—including qāḍis, jurists, traders, moneylenders, clerks, lawyers, and judges—shaped transoceanic commercial practices across the trade in dates, cloves, ivory and slaves through legal norms and networks.
Honorable mention went to Tom Lambert (Osborn Fellow in Medieval History, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge University) for Law and Order in Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford University Press, 2017).
The members of the 2018 Stein Book Award committee were: Michael Grossberg (Indiana University Bloomington), Jisoo Kim (The George Washington University), Kristin Mann (Emory University), Jessica Marglin (University of Southern California), Matthew C. Mirow (Florida International University), Daniel Lord Smail (Harvard University), and David V. Williams (University of Auckland), with Mitra Sharafi (University of Wisconsin-Madison), chair. Special thanks also go to Jennifer Hanrahan (University of Wisconsin Law School).