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From 'Desh' to 'Desh': The Family Firm as a Trans-Local Household in the Nineteenth-Century Western Indian Ocean


07 June 2022 | 3pm GMT

The family firm plays a central role in the historiography of long-distance trade and “vernacular” capitalism in the Indian Ocean and beyond. Yet it remains a largely under-theorized concept. In this talk, I explore a particularly prominent Gujarati family firm as a trans-local household. This conceptual shift enables the significant analytical incorporation of a broader cast of historical actors, including marital and “networked” kin. From this expanded vantage point, the family firm emerges as a node in overlapping networks of capital—financial, social and symbolic—and as a site of intersecting intimate and economic transactions. Trans-local households, such as the one explored in this talk, were key sites of transformation in an age of expanding colonial political economies and networks of global capital. 

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Hollian Wint is Assistant Professor of African History at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research and teaching focus on East Africa, South Asia, and the Indian Ocean and she is particularly concerned with the intersection of gender, political economy, and material culture. She recently received a 2021-22 ACLS Fellowship to complete her first book project, entitled Mobile Households: The Intimate Economies of Credit Across the Indian Ocean, c. 1860-1964.  

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