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Female Rule in the Indian Ocean World (1300-1900)

Eklöf Amirell, Stefan LU (2015) In Journal of World History 26(3). p.443-489
Abstract
An outstanding feature of the early modern Indian Ocean World is the large number of women who exercised formal sovereign political power. Based on a systematic survey of 277 queens regnant in the Indian Ocean World from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century, this article discusses four possible explanations for the relative frequency of female rule: religion, trade, political stability, and gender relations. It concludes that the spread of world religions, particularly Islam, entailed a decrease in the acceptance of female rule in large parts of the region, although its influence varied, and, in sharp contrast to the Middle East, many Muslim polities in the Indian Ocean World were at one time or another during the period under study... (More)
An outstanding feature of the early modern Indian Ocean World is the large number of women who exercised formal sovereign political power. Based on a systematic survey of 277 queens regnant in the Indian Ocean World from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century, this article discusses four possible explanations for the relative frequency of female rule: religion, trade, political stability, and gender relations. It concludes that the spread of world religions, particularly Islam, entailed a decrease in the acceptance of female rule in large parts of the region, although its influence varied, and, in sharp contrast to the Middle East, many Muslim polities in the Indian Ocean World were at one time or another during the period under study led by a woman. The notion that women rulers were preferred because of their commercial skills and ability to promote peaceful, open, and trade-friendly policies is rejected as a causal explanation because of its weak support in contemporary sources. The relative frequency of female rule in the Indian Ocean World can instead be explained on a general level by a combination of the desire for political and dynastic stability and the matrifocal orientation of many societies along the Indian Ocean rim. However, as in Europe during the same period, female rule tended mainly to be adopted as a last resort, and female royal power tended, apart from a few exceptions, to be weak and short-lived. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Journal of World History
volume
26
issue
3
pages
443 - 489
publisher
University of Hawaii Press
external identifiers
  • scopus:84975073383
ISSN
1527-8050
DOI
10.1353/jwh.2015.0023
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
9aed85e2-79c3-465c-9cd4-32cd708d950c (old id 4933170)
date added to LUP
2015-02-23 09:38:57
date last changed
2017-01-01 04:11:06
@article{9aed85e2-79c3-465c-9cd4-32cd708d950c,
  abstract     = {An outstanding feature of the early modern Indian Ocean World is the large number of women who exercised formal sovereign political power. Based on a systematic survey of 277 queens regnant in the Indian Ocean World from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century, this article discusses four possible explanations for the relative frequency of female rule: religion, trade, political stability, and gender relations. It concludes that the spread of world religions, particularly Islam, entailed a decrease in the acceptance of female rule in large parts of the region, although its influence varied, and, in sharp contrast to the Middle East, many Muslim polities in the Indian Ocean World were at one time or another during the period under study led by a woman. The notion that women rulers were preferred because of their commercial skills and ability to promote peaceful, open, and trade-friendly policies is rejected as a causal explanation because of its weak support in contemporary sources. The relative frequency of female rule in the Indian Ocean World can instead be explained on a general level by a combination of the desire for political and dynastic stability and the matrifocal orientation of many societies along the Indian Ocean rim. However, as in Europe during the same period, female rule tended mainly to be adopted as a last resort, and female royal power tended, apart from a few exceptions, to be weak and short-lived.},
  author       = {Eklöf Amirell, Stefan},
  issn         = {1527-8050},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {443--489},
  publisher    = {University of Hawaii Press},
  series       = {Journal of World History},
  title        = {Female Rule in the Indian Ocean World (1300-1900)},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/jwh.2015.0023},
  volume       = {26},
  year         = {2015},
}