List of Publications
Mathew, J. (2019). “On Principals and Agency: Reassembling Trust in Indian Ocean Commerce.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 61, no. 2: 242-268.
Mathew, J. (2019). “Gilding the Waves: Gold Smuggling and Financial Arbitrage across the Arabian Sea, 1939-1966” in Serels, S. and Cambell, G. (eds.) Currencies of the Indian Ocean World. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Mathew, J. (2018). “Smoke on the Water: Cannabis Smuggling, Corruption and the Janus-Faced Colonial State.” History Workshop Journal 86: 67-89.
Mathew, J. (2018). “Khaliji Hindustan: Towards a Diasporic History of Khalijis in South Asia from the 1780s to the 1960s” in Fromherz, A (ed). The Gulf in World History: Arabia at the Global Crossroads. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press.
Mathew, J. (2017). “Spectres of Pan-Islam: Methodological Nationalism and the Origins of Decolonization.” Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 45, no. 6: 942-968.
Mathew, J. (2016). Margins of the Market: Trafficking and Capitalism Across the Arabian Sea. Oakland: University of California Press.
Mathew, J. (2016). “Sindbad’s Ocean: Reframing the Market in the Middle East.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 48, no. 4: 754-757.
Mathew, J. (2015). “Margins of the Market: Trafficking and the Framing of Free Trade in the Arabian Sea, 1870s-1960s.” Enterprise and Society 16, no. 4: 770-779.
Mathew, J. (2012). “Trafficking Labor: Abolition and the Exchange of Labor across the Arabian Sea, 1861-1947.” Slavery & Abolition 33, no. 1: 139-156.
I am a cultural and social historian of the economy with a particular interest in illicit commerce and how it shapes modern capitalism. Most of my scholarship has focused on the Arabian Peninsula particularly from the perspective of the Indian Ocean. I have explored the intricate ways that the Middle East is connected to and interdependent on South Asia and East Africa. Recently my interests have gone even more transnational and I have jumped right across the “middle” of the Middle East to explore the histories of labor and consumption in the Maghrib.
I did my doctoral work at Harvard University under Roger Owen. Soon after finishing my Ph.D. I was jointly appointed in the Departments of History and Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Since 2016, I have been in the History Department at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ.
My first book, Margins of the Market: Trafficking and Capitalism across the Arabian Sea (University of California Press, 2016), traced the hidden networks that trafficked slaves, guns and gold across the Arabian Sea in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. The book shows how capitalism is constituted by the constant process of distinguishing and delegitimizing certain forms of exchange as trafficking. Connected to this project I have published several articles and chapters on trust, corruption, violence, and diaspora in the Middle East and the Indian Ocean world.
I have now turned my attention to a new project tentatively entitled, “Opiates of the Masses: A History of Humanity in the Time of Capital.” This research explores the consumption of hashish, opium and other narcotics with particular concern for how and why they are consumed by the working classes in the global south. I’m interested in how these substances allow human bodies to adapt to the demands of an industrial production and the time pressures of a capitalist economy. The project is not concerned with drugs so much as the fraught relationship between capitalist markets and the human experience of pain and pleasure. The archives and the history of drug consumption in North Africa were impossible to ignore so I am now slowly deepening my knowledge of the social and economic history of Morocco, Tunisia and French colonialism in the region.