This paper reflects on how we might be able to imagine the workings of cosmopolitanism in a historical context where documentation is somewhat scarce. It ask how the Red Sea port of Jeddah, home to a very ethnically mixed population adhering to different Islamic sects, managed to integrate not only the heterogeneous resident population but also tens- and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who passed through each year, spending weeks, months and sometimes years before returning to their homelands.
Ulrike Freitag is director of Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin (Center for Modern Oriental Studies) and professor of Islamic Studies at Freie Universität Berlin. She wrote Indian Ocean Migrants and State Formation in Hadhramaut (Brill 2003) and co-edited (with Nelida Fuccaro, Claudia Ghrawi and Nora Lafi) Urban Violence in the Middle East. Changing Cityscapes in the Transition from Empire to Nation State (Berghahn 2015). She focusses on Middle Eastern history in the 19th and 20th centuries in a global perspective.