Fahad Bishara specializes in the economic and legal history of the Indian Ocean and Islamic world. His book, A Sea of Debt: Law and Economic Life in the Western Indian Ocean, 1780-1950 (Cambridge University Press, 2017) is a legal history of economic life in the Western Indian Ocean, told through the story of the Arab and Indian settlement and commercialization of East Africa during the nineteenth century. It was the recipient of the J. Willard Hurst Prize (awarded by the Law and Society Association), the Jerry Bentley prize (awarded by the World History Association), and the Peter Gonville Stein book award (given by the American Society for Legal History).
Fahad is currently working on two projects. The first narrates 500 years of world history from the deck of an Indian Ocean dhow, and takes on issues of global capitalism, international law, empire, mobility, and scale in historical writing. The second explores the Indian Ocean trade in dates and uses it as a platform for examining the dynamics of a transregional bazaar economy in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but also sets that story against the backdrop of a longer connected history of the Gulf and Indian Ocean.