On April 6, 2018, Nancy Um will deliver a lecture in the Gravensteen Lecture Series at Leiden University
“From Ship to Shore: Commercial Privilege and Material Culture in Eighteenth-Century Yemen”
Abstract: Material objects played a key role in mediating the social world of overseas merchants in the deeply commercial and maritime societies around the rims of the Red Sea and the western Indian Ocean in the eighteenth century. While foreign goods, such as Chinese porcelain, imported textiles, horses, coffee, and spices, were highly desirable in the marketplaces of the Arabian Peninsula, these objects were not just commodities. In this talk, I will demonstrate how such items were deployed in ceremonial activities in the early modern port of Mocha. Subject to site-specific hierarchies of commercial privilege, these objects thus exceeded their commercial character and their transactional value.