Lehre Wintersemester 2017/2018

Indian Ocean Histories
Thursdays: 12-2 pm
Location: Kurt Wolters-3, Room 1121

This course examines histories of specific entities including merchants, drugs, seafarers, textiles, pirates, maritime technology, pilgrims and labour, as they themselves transform while catalysing change in the Indian Ocean world. These circulations introduce key themes in Indian Ocean studies and history in the longue durée.
Canonical texts on the Indian Ocean monsoons and sails that connected East Africa, South Asia and South-East Asia explicate dynamic networks of trade and enable interrogating the beginnings of globalization.
The ever-changing economic and cultural connections and disconnections accompany the emergence of imperialism, counterfeit commodities and forced migrations. Itineraries of convicts, women, plants, cloth, pilgrims, films and diaspora show how faith, knowledge, fashion, culture, heritage and identities are made and lived.
Classroom discussions will gauge the potential and limits of the framework of an ocean for understanding an inter-regional space that harbours seawater, islands and ports on the coasts of the Indian Ocean world.


  • Enseng Ho. 2006. The Graves of Tarim Genealogy and Mobility across the Indian Ocean. University of California Press.
  • Michael Pearson. 2003. The Indian Ocean (Seas in History). Routledge.
  • Sunil Amrith. 2015. Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants. Harvard University Press.

Learning goals

  • To understand basic concepts and themes in the field of Indian Ocean studies.
  • To understand and use the framework of an ocean for historical analysis.
  • To understand histories (in plural), from multiple perspectives and standpoints.
  • To think through the different sources of historical data including the colonial archive, travelogues, diaries, biographies, memoirs and material and cultural artefacts.