MESA Book Awards

Nile Green

University of California, Los Angeles

2011 Albert Hourani Book Award Co-Winner

Nile Green

Nile Green

Bombay Islam: The Religious Economy of the West Indian Ocean, 1840-1915
Cambridge University Press

Bombay’s Islam tells a complex and extremely well documented story in accessible, lively -- even humorous -- language. The multilingual and trans-regional coverage of the book is impressive as is its use of a vast array of sources that includes hagiographies, etiquette manuals, poems, travelogues, prayer books and contracts.

Green’s imaginative use of the concept of ‘religious economy’ as a broad framework saves the reader from the bipolar, dichotomous –and by now tedious— opposition of tradition and modernity. He carefully traces the social networks of Bombay’s diverse Muslim communities from the Gujarati hinterland to steamships plying the Indian Ocean between west Africa and the Arab world. It is this transnational perspective that brings into focus the unexpected proliferation and export of traditional religious publications as a result of industrialization.

In this ingenious enquiry,‘re-enchantment’ becomes one social outcome of industrial modernity.

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