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Edward Alpers

Research Professor

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Ned Alpers studies eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean world.

Ned Alpers studied African History at Harvard College and received his Ph.D. from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London in 1966, where he studied under Richard Gray. Before joining the UCLA Department of History in 1968 he taught for two years at the University of Dar es Salaam (when it was still a college of the University of East Africa). In 1972-1973 Ned conducted research in eastern Tanzania; in 1980 he taught at the Somali National University, College of Education, Lafoole as a Fulbright Senior Scholar. He served as President of the African Studies Association (USA) (1994) and Chair of its National Program Committee (2001). His research and writing focus on the political economy of international trade in precolonial eastern Africa, including the manifold cultural dimensions of this exchange system, with special attention to the wider world of the Indian Ocean. At UCLA Alpers served as chair for sixty-two Ph.D. dissertations.


A.B. Harvard College, 1963

Ph.D. School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 1966.

Selected Publications


Changing Horizons of African History (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2017), co-edited with Awet T. Weldemichael and Anthonny A. Lee.

The Indian Ocean in World History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014).

East Africa and the Indian Ocean (Princeton: Markus Wiener Publishers, 2009).

Recent articles and book chapters

“Maritime History, World History, Global History: Some Thoughts on Past, Present, and Future,” in Abdulrahman al-Salimi and Eric Staples (eds.), Oman, A Maritime History (Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, 2016), pp. 15-26. 

“Piraterie et traite des esclaves sur la côte swahilie entre le VIIe et le XVIIe siècle,” trans. Jean-  François Allain, in Nala Aloudat, Agnès Carayon and Vincent Giovanonni (eds.),    Méditerranée – Océan Indien: 10 siècles d’aventures sur les mers, VIIe-XVIIe siècles      (Marseille: Le Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée, 2016), pp. 47-50.

“Maritime Mozambique,” Tsingy: Revue de l’OIES, «Océan Indien, Espace et Sociétés» Université de La Réunion, 18, Dossier: Le Mozambique (2015): 15-34.

“Slavery, antislavery, political rivalry and regional networks in East African waters, 1877-1883,” Afriques [En ligne], 06 | 2015, Online since 21 December 2015. URL: http://afriques.revues.org/1744.

“Africa and Africans in the Making of Early Modern India,” in Pius Malekandathil (ed.), The Indian Ocean in the Making of Early Modern India (New Delhi: Manohar, 2015), pp.          61-74.

“Marooned Plants: Vernacular naming practices in the Mascarene Islands,” with Christian A. Kull and Jacques Tassin, Environment and History, 21, no. l (2015): 43-75.

“Food traditions, and landscape histories of the Indian Ocean World: Theoretical and methodological reflections,” with Haripriya Rangan, Tim Denham, Christian A. Kull, and Judith Carney, Environment and History, 21, no. 1 (2015): 135-157.

 “On Becoming a BritishLake: Piracy, Slaving, and British Imperialism in the Indian Ocean During the First Half of the Nineteenth Century,” in Robert Harms, Bernard K. Freamon, and David W. Blight (eds.), Indian Ocean Slavery in the Age of Abolition (New Haven: YaleUniversity Press, 2013), pp. 45-58.

“Debt, Pawnship, and Slavery in Nineteenth-Century East Africa,” in Gwyn Campbell and Alessandro Stanziani (eds.), Bonded Labour and Debt in the Indian Ocean World (London: Chatto & Pickering, 2013), pp. 31-43, 197-200.

“‘Portuguese’ Diasporas: A Survey of the Scholarly Literature,” with Molly Ball, in Eric Morier-Genoud and Michel Cahen (eds.), Imperial Migrations: Colonial Communities and Diaspora in the Portuguese World (Houndsmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), pp. 31-71.

“Diversity of Experience and Legacies of African Slavery in the Western Indian Ocean,” in Ehud R. Toledano (ed.), African Communities in Asia and the Mediterranean: Identities between Integration and Conflict (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2012), pp. 65-80.


Africa and the Indian Ocean