Year of publications:
Place of publication:
Other Entities Involved: UNEP
Series number: 2020
30 Mar 2021
Edited By Rila Mukherjee, Radhika Seshan
30 Mar 2021
This book offers a global history of the Indian Ocean and focuses on a holistic perspective of the worlds of water. It builds on maritime historian Michael Naylor Pearson’s works, his unorthodox approach and strong influence on the study of the Indian Ocean in viewing the oceanic space as replete with human experiences and not as an artefact of empire or as the theatre of European commercial and imperial transits focused only on trade.
There have been long traditions of maritime scholarship on human history at sea, tracing movements of people, ideas and objects across oceans. This work has however been human-centred and concerned only with the ocean as a backdrop. New versions of ocean studies asks us to engage with both human and non-human aspects of the ocean, with both the depth and the surface. This paper explores both approaches: taking a social and cultural history approach, the first outlines the ways in which the Atlantic and Indian oceans have been conjoined and separated and the modes of work which toggle across both. The second part heads for the open sea and provides some speculation on what a post-humanist oceanic enterprise might look like. A third concluding section returns to Africa and asks what these various historiographical developments might mean for African studies.