Land and Maritime Empires in the Indian Ocean
Date and Start Time 01 July, 2017 at 09:00
This panel aims to reconstructing the nature and form of the Empires on sea and on land in the Indian Ocean, and the natural and cultural landscapes where they were situated.
An ecotone is a transitional area between two or more distinct ecological communities, like for example the zone between field and forest, mountain and ocean, or between sea and land. The two ecosystems may be separated by sharp boundaries lines or may merge gradually. An ecotone may also indicate a place where two communities meet, at times creolizing or germinating into a new community. Inside this panel, we'll borrow this term traditionally used in environmental studies and geography, and try to applying it to this research area. Consequently, ecotones seek to continue exploring the complex chemistry of creolizing worlds, the contact zones between cultures in contexts such as migration, diaspora, maritime movements and other displacements among major historical and political events.
More specifically, this panel aims to reconstruct the nature, pattern, and intensity of resource use at different periods in the past; the environmental contexts, impacts and sustainability of these different strategies of resource use; the nature and form of the Empires on sea and on land, and the natural and cultural landscapes where they were situated; the mechanisms and technologies of trade and maritime activity; and the nature of settlement activities outside of the towns. There is further scope: developing some of the ideas of historians concerning the manner in which interaction between land and sea has fashioned the histories of many societies and civilizations, and on the significance of trans-oceanic links between these maritime societies.
Chair: Beatrice Nicolini
Discussant: Charlotte Botfield
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Gwadar, Muscat and Zanzibar: Power and Ports Interchange in the Indian Ocean
During the nineteenth century the presence of Omanis political leaders on Asian ports and on the Eastern African coasts did lead to numerous intersections between regional and international interests where Britain often played a role of turning realities into new political scenarios.
The power of the Al Bu Sa'id Sultans of Oman was widely known as based on delicate balance of forces, and social groups, deeply different among them. In fact, the elements that composed the nineteenth century Omani leadership were, and had always been, generally divided amongst different groups: the Baloch, the Asian merchant communities and the African regional leaders (Mwiny Mkuu). The role played by European Powers, particularly by the Treaties signed between the Sultans of Oman and the East India Company for abolishing slavery, and by the arms trade was crucial for the development of the Gulf and the Indian Ocean international networks. They highly contributed to the gradual shifting of the Omanis from the slave trade to clove and spice cultivation - the major economic source of Zanzibar Island - along the coastal areas of Sub-Saharan East Africa.
The British Empire at War: German Espionage in the Diverse Community of the East African Protectorate of the First World War
The links that existed between the different sections of the creolizing community of the relatively new East Africa Protectorate and their British colonial rulers were exploited by German espionage during the First World War, to the detriment of the British war effort.
In the decades preceding the outbreak of the First World War in the East African Protectorate, the community of the Protectorate changed considerably. The Indians and Europeans who arrived via the Indian Ocean joined the Afrikaners, who had migrated north, to establish a creolized community in the new British colony alongside the indigenous African population.
The events of the Great War in the East African Protectorate have been little studied, and yet this creolized community, which had by no means germinated into a cohesive society, caused, through a minority's collaboration with German-backed espionage, security problems not only internally within the Protectorate, but in the East African Theatre of War and in the Indian Ocean more widely.
Although the Second Boer War had highlighted deficiencies in British colonial intelligence, the British Government in London did not study the impact of this on the Protectorate, having instead decided to focus on revolutionising British intelligence to deal almost exclusively on threats from Europe.
Thus, by 1914 the British had few resources in Africa to combat the influence of German-backed espionage on the Protectorate's society. Although this has been previously neglected within the literature, this espionage, and the divisions it caused, negatively affected the British war effort; fighting was to be found across Eastern Africa in both urban and rural areas.
The history of the East African Protectorate during the Great War was thus fashioned by the many societies which lived within it, and the links that existed between them and the colonial rulers.
The Territory In-between
This project explores the interplay between physical and imagined spaces, through the fluidity and stasis of human mobility in Cape Verde in ways that allow us to rethink our ways of understanding the state, boundaries and space. We live in an era of unprecedented migration.
Entry and rights of access to land territories is highly regulated and policed. Consequently, millions of migrants live precarious lives as migrant laborers, and refugees and undocumented persons. Migrants' journeys are commonly portrayed as a linear progression from home to host nations. In reality, however, their spatial movements are replete with interruptions and discontinuities; occupying spaces of hiding, waiting, diversion, escape and settlement. Using drawings, I probe both these fluid and static notions of territory in Cape Verde. A country whose sea territory - spanning 200 000 km2 is fifty times its landmass (4000 km2) - it has a larger sea land ratio than most countries and its close proximity to Africa, Latin America and Europe.
A series of drawings explore this in-between space and critique two conventional underpinnings of territory: 'site' and 'state', uncovering and exploring the relationship between the formation, contestation and absurdity of territories, the production of edges, borders, site, state and nations, and the experiences of bodies through these states. While state often refers to an organized political community under one government, it also denotes one's condition at a specific time. The fluid and transient nature of the themes in my project suggests a reconsideration of the relationship between site and project. A more fruitful direction lies in the recognition that all sites are constructions, whether out of a set of empirical conditions, the imagination, or both. These findings have implications for our understanding of the state, geography and migration.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.