The course is designed to introduce the Indian Ocean as a region linking the Middle East, East Africa, South and Southeast Asia. With a focus on both continuities and rupture, we study select cultures and societies brought into contact through trade, migration. and travel across the Indian Ocean over a broad arc of history. We explore how nobles, merchants, soldiers, statesmen, sailors, laborers, scholars, and slaves engaged in different types of mobility, and how their actions led to the forging of a shared world, from the early period until the present. By building a world-historical narrative that connects Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, we will be able to historicize many of the phenomena that we associate with “globalization” in the world today.
Rather than a comprehensive overview, this course provides a general set of conceptual and analytic tools for understanding empires, migrations, and adaptations across temporal and spatial bounds. At the heart of the course is a challenge to traditional area studies boundaries by thinking about actors, institutions, and historical processes that traverse those boundaries and create altogether new geographies. Using an array of different primary sources, we look at particular case studies and their broader social and cultural contexts