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Jeremy C.A. Smith

by this very aspect of conquest. Portal civilisations create institutions and practices of power capable of extensive contacts and relationships without conquest of vast territories. To be sure, they build empires and extend spheres of commerce, culture and travel in which explicit power is created. My synopses of the Venetian Mediterranean (during the era of Venice’s naval dominance) and the Omani West Indian Ocean (with its flows of slave trading) are indicative of the balance of engagement and explicit power. Nonetheless, they are distinct from oceanic

in Debating civilisations
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Seas, oceans and civilisations
Jeremy C.A. Smith

the way down to Madagascar are underestimated in the historiography (Paine, 2013: 268–​72). Undoubtedly, as Nicolini has argued, they contextualised Swahili integration into Omani commerce. Conjoined circuits of Saharan trade, created by the empires of the Niger Delta and Ethiopia in earlier centuries, formed the backdrop of zones of contact, communication and exchange with Islamic and Christian civilisations. The importance of historical trades for commerce and state formation in the West Indian Ocean has also been underestimated. As elsewhere, cross

in Debating civilisations