Settled Strangers:Asian Business Elites in East Africa, 1800-2000

Settled Strangers

Asian Business Elites in East Africa, 1800-2000, (Sage 2013)


Prof. Gijsbert Oonk

Head of the Department of History, Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

On 28th October 2013 at 5 p.m.

Room No-13, Centre for the Study of Social System

Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Settled Strangers aims at understanding the social, economic and political evolution of the transnational migrant community of Gujarati traders and merchants in East Africa. The history of South Asians in East Africa is neither part of the mainstream national Indian history nor that of East African history writing. This is surprising, because South Asians in East Africa outnumbered the Europeans with ten to one. Moreover, their overall economic contribution and political significance may be more important than the history of the colonizers. This book is an attempt to provide some balance in the form of a history of the South Asians in East Africa through the lens of the actors themselves. It studies the kind of social, economic and political adjustments the emigrant Gujaratis had to make in the course of this migration. By using insights from the social sciences, including concepts like cultural capital, family firm, transnationality, middleman minorities and cultural change, this book aims to achieve a broader understanding of communities that do not belong to nations, yet are part of national states.


Gijsbert Oonk (1966) is Associate Professor of African and South Asian History at the Erasmus School of History Culture and Communication. He is Head of Department of History at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication, Rotterdam, Netherlands. His major interests include: business, migration and economic history. He is particular interested in the role of South Asian (Indian) migrants and settlers in East Africa. His most recent book is G. Oonk,Settled Strangers. The Asian Business Elites in East Africa, 1800-2000 (Sage publishers, Delhi 2013). He also published a biography of the South Asian business family, Karimjee Jivanjee, The Karimjee Jivanjee family: Merchant princes of East Africa, 1800-2000 (Amsterdam 2009). He received his PhD in non-Western history at Erasmus University Rotterdam in 1998: Ondernemers in Ontwikkeling. Fabrieken en fabrikanten in de Indiase katoenin­dustrie, 1850-1930,(Entrepreneurs in Development. Mills and millowners in the Indian cotton textile industry; Hilversum 1998).

Time and Place:

Date:   Monday, Oct 28, 2013
Venue:   JNU
Address:   Room No 13, CSSS II, JNU
City/Twon:   New Delhi
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