International Ibnu Batuta Conference on Travel, Trade, Tradition and Trajectories

Ophira Gamliel

Theology and Religious Studies

University of Glasgow

Ophira Gamliel is a lecturer of South Asian Religions at the University of Glasgow in the UK. She was a post-doctoral researcher in the ERC-funded project on Eastern Jewish-Christian relations in premodern Asia and Africa (JewsEast.org) at the Ruhr University Bochum in Germany. She wrote her PhD on Jewish Malayalam Women’s Songs in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2010), and published many articles on the history, languages, and literature of Kerala Jews. She published in Hebrew two anthologies of Sanskrit epics and myths (Keter, 1999, 2000), and a Malayalam-Hebrew bilingual anthology of Jewish-Malayalam folksongs in collaboration with Scaria Zacharia (Ben-Zvi Institute, 2005). She currently works on two books forthcoming in 2019, A Comprehensive Introduction to Malayalam Grammar (Otto Harrassowitz) and Judaism in South India ca. 900s-1950s: Relocating Malabar Jewry (ARC Humanities Press).


Transregional Identities across the Arabian Sea
On the Official Title Fadiyār in the Cairo Geniza

The title fadiyār occurs in several Cairo Geniza letters exchanged between Jewish traders who were active in the Indian Ocean maritime trade between the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The presentation traces the derivation of the term in the official title pati that appears in the Kollam copper plates (849) and in Kannada inscriptions (twelfth century). Despite the time, place and language differences, the sources under investigation originate in the context of maritime trade networks in the Indian Ocean thus calling for an integrative examination to trace the derivation of the term fadiyār in the term pati. The mirror image of an official title in one set of sources in an official title in another is telling; a local chieftain from the perspective of land owners in Malabar is a business partner from the perspective of maritime traders in Yemen. A comparative study of such points of reference opens new vistas to the construction of the shared history, geography and economy of Southwest and Southeast Asia during the centuries preceding European expansion in the region.