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Faculty Photo
Photo Credit: Nick Romanenko
Front row: (L-R) Nancy Sinkoff, Paul Hanebrink, James Delbourgo, Rudy Bell, Paul Israel, Paul G. E. Clemens
2nd: Judith Surkis, Matt Matsuda, Carolyn Brown, Johanna Schoen, Walter Rucker, Marisa Fuentes, Bayo Holsey, Samantha Kelly, Toby C. Jones
3rd: Jackson Lears, Seth Koven, Gail Triner, Ann Fabian, Barbara M. Cooper, Temma Kaplan, Melissa Feinberg
Last: Louis Masur, Jamie Pietruska, Mark Wasserman, David Greenberg, Alastair Bellany, Steven Reinert, Deborah Gray White, Norman Markowitz, John W. Chambers, Virginia Yans, Leah DeVun, Camilla Townsend, Sarolta Takacs, Don Roden


Johan Mathew

Assistant Professor

Ph.D., Harvard University, 2012

Diploma in Arabic, School of Oriental and African Studies
(University of London), 2006

B.A. Princeton University, 2004

At Rutgers since 2016

002D Van Dyck Hall
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I am an economic historian with a particular interest in crime and illicit commerce and how they shape capitalist markets. Geographically, I have focused on the western Indian Ocean but I study and teach transnational and global history more generally. Before joining Rutgers I was jointly appointed in the Departments of History and Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

My first book, Margins of the Market: Trafficking and Capitalism across the Arabian Sea, was published by the University of California Press in May 2016. The book traces the hidden networks that trafficked slaves, guns and gold across the Arabian Sea in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. I argue that labor, property and capital – the conceptual foundations of capitalist ideology – were reframed by the interplay between trafficking networks and colonial regulations. Connected to this project I have several published and forthcoming pieces on violence, fraud and diaspora in the Indian Ocean world. I have now turned my attention to narcotics and their relationship with labor. This new project is tentatively entitled, “Opiates of the Masses: Labor, Narcotics and Global Capitalism.” This research explores the consumption of cannabis, opium and other narcotics with particular concern for how and why they are consumed by the working classes in Asia and Africa. Initial forays suggest that the physical and psychological strains of capitalist labor regimes were made tolerable through the consumption of narcotics.


090:293 The Political Economy of Piracy (Honors)

506:102 World History 1500 to the Present

508:292 Pilgrims, Pirates and Poets: Globalization in the Indian Ocean World


  • “Khaliji Hindustan: Towards a Diasporic History of Khalijis in South Asia, 1780s-1960s” in The Gulf: Global Contacts Connections and Cultures at the Crossroads of Persia and Arabia (University of Edinburgh Press, Forthcoming)
  • “Gilding the Waves: Gold Smuggling and Financial Arbitrage across the Arabian Sea, 1939-1966” in Currencies of Commerce in the Indian Ocean World, (Palgrave, Forthcoming)
  • Money on the Move: Currency Arbitrage and Gold Smuggling between Asia and Arabia (Al-Sudairy Foundation Occasional Papers Series, Forthcoming in Arabic Translation)
  • Margins of the Market: Trafficking and Capitalism across the Arabian Sea (University of California Press, 2016)
  • “Sindbad’s Ocean: Reframing the Market in the Middle East,” Roundtable on the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean in International Journal of Middle East Studies (December 2016)
  • “Margins of the Market: Trafficking and the Framing of Free Trade in the Arabian Sea, 1870s-1960s” (Dissertation Prize Summary) in Enterprise and Society (December 2015)
  • “Trafficking Labor: Abolition and the Exchange of Labor across the Arabian Sea, 1861-1947” in Slavery & Abolition (March 2012)


  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, John E. Sawyer Seminar Grant, Co-Principal Investigator
  • Mellon Mutual Mentoring Micro Grant, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Business History Conference, Herman E. Krooss Dissertation Prize (Finalist)
  • Social Science Research Council, Postdoctoral Fellowship for Transregional Research
  • Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, Graduate Fellowship
  • Business History Conference, K. Austin Kerr Prize (Honorable Mention)

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