South Asia

Organized Panel Session

37 - Opportunities and Obligations in the Indian Ocean (c. 1850-1950)

7/6/2018
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Marigold, New Building

Over the course of the nineteenth century, approximately thirty million South Asians traveled abroad for one reason or another. At the same time, the world’s shipping capacity, which could carry nine millions tons of cargo in 1850, grew to accommodate nearly six times that amount by 1910 (Pearson 2003). Thus, as the British Empire reshaped the global imperial-economic order, the Indian Ocean became the center of increasingly vast, interconnected networks of organized trade and economic activity. Considering mercantile, microbial, legal, and religious networks, this panel interrogates the shifting geography of the Indian Ocean as it experienced imperial and technological transformations in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Weaving together the histories of debt and documentation (Wint), apprenticeship and social opportunity (Goswami), death and disease (Das), and religious advice and affiliation (Lhost), the papers on this panel reconsiders the role of the Indian Ocean in the larger history of the region. Each of the paper addresses a specific concern, but together the papers explore three inter-related issues. First, how did European imperialism—and its accompanying legal frameworks—reshape social and commercial activity in the Indian Ocean? Second, how did existing networks of migration, exchange, navigation, and mercantilism resist and respond to European economic hegemony? And third, what were the unexpected costs and unintended outcomes of this changing landscape? Drawing upon evidence from vernacular and imperial sources, the papers on this panel offer fresh perspectives on the history of the Indian Ocean at the height of British Imperialism.

Presentations:

Elizabeth Lhost

University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States

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Elizabeth Lhost

University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States

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Hollian Wint

Northwestern University, United States

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Chhaya Goswami

Somaiya College, India

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Pallavi Das

University of Delhi, India

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Elizabeth Lhost

University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States

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