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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Endowing property and edifying power in a Red Sea port: 'waqf', Arab migrant entrepreneurs, and urban authority in Massawa, 1860s-1880s
Author:Miran, JonathanISNI
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies
Geographic term:Eritrea
Islamic law
property rights
urban history
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/40282383
Abstract:Economic and political transformation throughout the 19th century generated manifold processes of social and cultural change in the port town of Massawa (in present-day Eritrea). One conspicuous phenomenon was the advent of a group of Arab commercial entrepreneurs - mainly Hadhramis, Egyptians and others - who settled in Massawa, connecting as brokers, agents and merchants to various economic-based networks in the Red Sea area and the Western Indian Ocean. These entrepreneurs invested significantly in urban real estate. Beyond its apparent economic function, this paper argues that the acquisition of land, houses and shops might also be understood as one of several integrating vehicles into host communities and local institutions. The paper takes this idea one step further in establishing a relationship between urban real estate, the Islamic religious endowment institution of 'waqf', and the development of power in the public sphere. The study is based on the reading of a selection of c. three dozen of 'waqf'-related cases which are found in the records of Massawa's Islamic court dating between 1868-1881. The information from the court records is complemented by oral data collected in Eritrea. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]