The Newsletter 55 Winter 2010

The melancholy of Mocha

Michael Pearson

Um, Nancy, 2009. The Merchant Houses of Mocha: Trade & Architecture in an Indian Ocean Port. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press. 270 pages. ISBN 978 0 295 98911 (paperback).

At first glance, this book seems to deal with an unlikely topic. Using architecture as a prime source, it deals with the history of a city, Mocha, which today lies in ruins. Even in 1909 there were only about 20 stone or brick buildings left in this once thriving port city. The reproductions of old photographs of various buildings are often captioned, in melancholy fashion, ‘now destroyed’.

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