After World War I a series of dramatic changes in the Northwest Indian Ocean reshaped political, social, and economic circumstances that deeply affected the labor and lives of people. Such transformations-- including, the abolition of slavery, contracting Ottoman imperialism and expanding European domination, and the rise of independent nation states-- demonstrate the ways in which systems of labor evolved around existing hierarchies of race and ethnicity, hierarchies which were also embedded in patterns of migration. My dissertation examines the networks of laborers across these regions to illustrate the continuities and disruptions to individuals' social systems and lives during the rapid transformations of the mid-twentieth century. Impacts of shifting consumption patterns and political transformations during this period reached beyond impersonal global economic markets and shaped who worked, why, and where they lived. These hierarchies raise many questions: in what way did systems of oppression and bondage continue after the legal abolition of slavery? How did systems of migration and bonded labor respond to the rise of independent nation states? To what extent did considerations of racialization and Othering shape labor practices in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula? How did the local, regional, and global consumption of commodities from the region impact the lives of workers and their social networks? And, critically, how did laborers navigate these dramatic transformations and illustrate their own agency? My dissertation utilizes transnational administrative records, visual sources, and oral histories to examine these questions and argue that Systems of labor, migration, and enslavement cannot be taken as individual phenomena apart from production and consumption, but rather, must be examined as interrelated concepts often in friction with the increasing power of nation-states.