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Symposium ‘Licit and illicit lives in the western Indian Ocean’

12/10/2015 @ 15:30 - 18:00

In this informal symposium, three emerging scholars of the Indian Ocean world discuss the licit and illicit lives of the western Indian Ocean region. Following a successful Indian Ocean panel at the Africa-Asia conference in Accra, Ghana, they introduce their ongoing ethnographic and archival research connecting East Africa, India and the Middle East from late-colonial into modern times. This symposium is a prelude to a series of papers and panels planned for the 2016 AAS-in-Asia conference in Kyoto, Japan.

Nidhi Mahajan’s ethnographic work offers a window into maritime lives of modern dhow owners and sailors in the context of the global “war on terror” and economic liberalization in India. She examines how dispossessed participants of the dhow trade are implicated in networks that fund Al-Shabaab in Somalia, ultimately leading to increased insecurity in the region.

Awet Weldemichael will speak about the cycles of criminality off the coast of Somalia, focusing on ongoing cycles of criminality that precipitated and fuelled piracy and risk doing so again in the future. His recent fieldwork reveals alarming conditions along the Puntland coastline that are likely to lead to the resurgence of maritime predation (defensive as well as predatory).

Marina Martin examines Indian identity, citizenship and notions of the ‘diaspora’ across southern and East Africa. She focuses on the development of cross-imperial British ideas about Indian, African and European economic interests through the lens of colonial immigration laws. These laws provide an insight into the social and political impact of Indian migrants in the economy and underscore the implications of immigration for changing race/ethnicity and multiracial identification in colonial countries.

15.30-15.45: Opening remarks by Tom Hoogervorst (KITLV)
15.45-16.15: Nidhi Mahajan (African Studies Centre and International Institute of Asia Studies), ‘From dates to charcoal: The dhow trade and dispossession in the western Indian Ocean’
16.15-16.45: Awet T. Weldemichael (Queen’s University), ‘The piracies off the coast of Somalia’
16.45-17.15: Marina Martin (Goethe University), ‘Discourses of weakness and the creation of British colonial immigration laws towards Indians in sub-Saharan Africa’
17.15-18.00: Q&A, discussion and closing remarks

If you wish to attend, please register with Yayah Siegers: [email protected]


15:30 - 18:00
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KITLV, room 138
Reuvensplaats 2
Leiden, Netherlands
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