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Fall 2020
Aug 07, 2022
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ANTH 330 - Indian Ocean Ethnography
In one of the rare accounts on the marked connectivity between Africa and the Gulf, Abusharaf and Eickelman highlighted the ways in which the two regions have interacted historically and how the emerging cultural and political landscape were transformed in the course of human circularity and circumnavigation. Africa and the Gulf: Blurred Boundaries, Shifting Ties, elucidated the paradox that marks understanding the historical and contemporary trans-regional relationships between Africa and the Gulf. Geographic propinquity and economic and cultural exchanges over millennia notwithstanding, scholars have often conceived of the Gulf and Africa as largely separate. The two regions have deep historical roots that influence both the long durée and the short-term contemporary events of policy shifts, economic flows, and political transformations. Both Africa and the Gulf, moreover, are made up of mixed populations and “creole” societies, in which spoken languages--to mention only one aspect of the societies in the region-- show a dazzling, often changing, array of borrowing and assimilation as shaped by forced and voluntary migrations, and a remarkable capacity of creativity and adaptation. Gudided by the theoretical and ethnographic questions to which the study of the two regions gives rise, in this seminar we will take a closer look at these questions by situating Africa and the Gulf region within a broader framework of the Indian Ocean world. Approaching the Gulf and Africa from an Indian Ocean perspective will provide new ways of an understanding of how to unite geography, ethnography, social history, migration and great waves of social and economic transformations. Some socio-political and cultural dynamics that inform the seminar’s approach to Gulf and African societies and the deep interconnections between them. We will trace the historical context of this project necessitates an understanding of the fact that over the past five millennia, plants, animals, people, languages, ideas, religions, technologies, and a vast array of raw and manufactured commodities have circulated along the watery highways connecting East Africa with the Persian Gulf, South Asia and the Western Indian Ocean. Moreover, this will provide a critique of the imperial and national historiographic traditions on the Indian Ocean that mitigated the ability of many to explore the multifaceted connections between distant places and peoples across the Indian Ocean rim.
3.000 Credit hours
3.000 Lecture hours

Levels: Undergraduate
Schedule Types: Seminar

Anthropology Department


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