Pedro Machado

Associate Professor, Department of History

Director, Dhar India Studies Program

Department of History

  • (812) 855-1320
  • Ballantine Hall 865
    1020 E Kirkwood Ave
    Bloomington, IN47405
  • Office Hours
    M onday
    by appointment
    T uesday
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    W ednesday
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    Th ursday
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    F riday
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IU; IU Bloomington

Full Biography

Having been born and raised in Cape Town (South Africa), I was influenced by its histories of anti-apartheid struggle and especially its connections to the Atlantic and Indian Oceans that developed with greater intensity from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  The intertwined pasts of Indian Ocean areas and regions in particular stimulated the development of my intellectual interests as an academic, resulting in my training as a world and global historian of the connections across this oceanic space between Africa and South Asia. In particular, I research and write about the intersecting histories of western India and southeastern Africa in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and about how these histories were mediated by particular social and commercial networks of South Asian merchant groups. Central to my research interests have been identifying how local, self-sustaining capitalists structured exchange fuelled by reciprocal consumer demand across the western reaches of the ocean at a time, from the 1750s, of growing and competing imperial interests for control over the global commerce of the Indian Ocean.

My first book, Ocean of Trade thus examined the multiple dynamics of Vāniyās, South Asian merchants with network headquarters in Diu and Daman in Gujarat in western India, in connecting local and regional commercial systems in South Asia, and East and Southeast Africa with rapidly intensifying global systems of material, social and cultural exchange from the mid-eighteenth to the first half of the nineteenth centuries. The book argued that the entanglements of peoples in these two regions deepened during these years and was mediated in critical ways by Vāniyās as they reoriented and consolidated new commercial frontiers along the ocean’s southwest littoral and interior. This was as much a reflection of the self-sustaining capacity of these networks as it was of the integrated nature of consumer markets on both sides of the Indian Ocean that resulted in exchanges of large shipments of South Asian cotton cloths, and African slaves and ivory.

I am currently working on a global history of pearling and pearl shell that draws on a wide range of archives and geographies.It uncovers linkages and relational histories between the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, as it also focues on the practices and experienes of harvesting pearls and shell that were often defined by racialized labour regimes. This work draws in part on research carried out as part of a major cross-disciplinary international research project (comprised of scholars from the United States, Japan and Australia) on the histories of the pearl fisheries of the Indian Ocean. Pearling has long been an important maritime and commercial activity for societies from the Gulf and Red Sea to the Indonesian and South China Sea waters and the project combines an object- and commodity-based approach with environmental, historical, anthropological and ethnographic research to uncover the linkages between the ocean’s pearling pasts. The research culminated in the volume, Pearls, People and Power

I am also at work on a second book project on the history of eucalyptus within the Portuguese Empire’s Atlantic and Indian Ocean spheres. I am interested especially in the influence of colonial forestry officials in developing and promoting eucalypt growing as an imperial and colonial strategy with far-reaching commercial, industrial and environmental effects.

Honors and Awards

  • Mellon Foundation, Sawyer Seminar 2023 - 2024 ("Global Slaveries, Fugitivity and the Afterlives of Unfreedom")
  • Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, Visiting Fellowship (2022)
  • IU Pan Asia University - Australian National University Visiting Fellowship (2019)
  • FLAD/Luso-Development Foundation Short-Term Research Grant (2016)
  • Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant (2015-2019)
  • Ostrom Grants Program Award (2015)
  • Mellon Innovating International Research, Teaching and Collaboration Award (2015)
  • College Arts and Humanities Institute, Research Travel Grant (2014)
  • Office of the Vice-President for International Affairs, Language Learning Grant (2014)
  • College Arts and Humanities Institute, Conference Grant (2013; 2015)
  • Center for the Study of History and Memory, Conference Grant (2012)
  • University of Pittsburgh, World History Center, Visiting Scholar (2011-12)
  • Trustees Teaching Award (2012; 2022)

Research Interests

  • Global and Indian Ocean History
  • Commodity Histories
  • Globalization Merchant and Commercial Networks
  • Oceanic Perspectives and Frameworks
  • Comparative and Connected Slaveries
  • South Asian and African History


  • B.A. (Hons.) University of Cape Town
  • D. Phil. University of London

Courses Taught

  • H233, Kickin’ It! Soccer, Race, Empire, Nation and the Making of the Modern Game
  • H102, The World in the Twentieth Century II 
  • H699, Globalizing the Past: History and the Global ‘Turn’
  • H799, The Ocean: Trans-regional Histories, Routes and Discourses 
  • W300, Slavery & Unfreedom in World History 
  • H591, Teaching World History 
  • J300, Cradle of Globalization? History, Economy, Society and Diaspora in the Indian Ocean 


  • "Assembling Capital(ism)," International Journal of Maritime History, 35 (2), 2023
  • "Maritime Passages in the Indian Ocean Slave Trade," in Damian Pargas and Juliane Schiel (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Global Slavery (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023)
  • "Vertical Ocean," Verge 8, 1 (2022): Special Issue, Indian Ocean Studies, Afro-Asian Affinities
  • "Brilliant Cargoes: Pearls, Shell and Marine Product Exchange in the Indian Ocean," in Burkhard Schnepel & Julia Verne (eds.), Cargoes in Motion: Materiality and Connectivity Across the Indian Ocean (Ohio University Press, 2021)
  • "Africa and the Indian Ocean World to 1800," in Toyin Falola & Mohammed Bashir Salau (eds.), Africa in Global History (De Gruyter Publishers, 2021)
  • Pearls, People and Power: Pearling and Indian Ocean Worlds, co-edited with Steve Mullins & Joseph Christensen (Ohio University Press, 2020)
  • "Shell Routes: Exploring Burma's Pearling Histories," in Pearls, People and Power
  • "Slavery and Histories of Unfreedom in the Indian Ocean," in Prasannan Parthasarathi (ed), Indian Ocean Currents: Six Artistic Narratives (University of Chicago Press, 2020)
  • "Memory, Memorialization and 'Heritage' in the Indian Ocean," in Neelima Jeychandaran, Bettina Ng'wono & Smriti Srinivas (eds.), Reimagning Indian Ocean Worlds (Routledge, 2020)
  • "Littoral Sea Tracks: Tracing Burma's Transregional Pearling Histories," in Rila Mukherjee & Radhika Seshan (eds.), Indian Ocean Histories: The Many Worlds of Michael Naylor Pearson (Routledge, 2020)
  • "The Deepest Blue Sea: Gujarati Merchant Shipping and the Commercial Currents of the Indian Ocean in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries," in Edward A. Alpers & Chhaya Goswami (eds.), Transregional Trade and Traders: Situating Gujarati in the Indian Ocean frm Early Times to 1900 (Oxford University Press, 2019)
  • Textile Trades, Consumer Cultures and the Material Worlds of the Indian Ocean: An Ocean of Cloth, co-edited with Sarah Fee & Gwyn Campbell (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018)
  • "The Ocean's Many Cloth Pathways," with Sarah Fee in Textile Trades, Consumer Cultures and the Material Worlds of the Indian Ocean
  • "Cloth's Many Waterways: Indian Ocean Textiles and the Deep Histories of Exchange," in Prita S. Meier & Allyson Purpura (eds.), World on the Horizon: Swahili Arts Across the Indian Ocean (University of Washington Press, 2018)
  •  "Entangled Histories: Translocal Textile Trades in Eastern Africa, c. 1800 to the Early Twentieth Century," Textile History, 48 (1), May 2017, special issue edited with Sarah Fee
  • "Repositioning African Within the Global," Africa Today, 63, 2 (Winter 2016)
  • "Views from Other Boats: On Amitav Ghosh's Indian Ocean 'Worlds'", AHR Roundtable: History meets Fiction in the Indian Ocean: On Amitav Ghosh's Ibis Trilogy, American Historical Review, December 2016, vol. 121, no. 5
  • Ocean of Trade: South Asian Merchants, Africa and the Indian Ocean, c.1750-1850 (Cambridge University Press, 2014)
  • “Cloths of a New Fashion: Indian Ocean Networks of Exchange and Cloth Zones of Contact in Africa and India in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries,” in How India Clothed the World: The World of South Asian Textiles, 1500-1850, eds. Tirthankar Roy, Om Prakash, Kaoru Sugihara and Giorgio Riello (Brill, 2009)
  • “Awash in a Sea of Cloth: Gujarat, Africa and the western Indian Ocean, 1300 – 1800,” in The Spinning World: A Global History of Cotton Textiles, 1200-1850, eds. Prasannan Parthasarathi and Giorgio Riello (Oxford University Press, 2009).
  • “A Forgotten Corner of the Indian Ocean: Gujarati Merchants, Portuguese India and the Mozambique Slave Trade, c. 1730-1830,” in The Structure of Slavery in Indian Ocean Africa and Asia, ed. Gwyn Campbell (Routledge, 2004)