Call for Papers

Oceanic Circularities: The Indian Ocean in the Modern World

Georgetown University, Qatar
16-18 February, 2020

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 and Southeast Asia, and China. Yet imperial and national historiographic traditions as much as the presentist bias of the dominant social sciences have, until fairly recently, prevented scholars from exploring the multifaceted connections between distant places and peoples across the Indian Ocean rim. In contrast with scholarship on the North Atlantic and Mediterranean worlds, therefore, the study of Indian Ocean circularities is a relatively new and dynamic field even as it prompts us to rethink global history from an altogether new perspective. 

Since 2014, the Indian Ocean Working Group (IOWG) in Georgetown University, Qatar has brought together researchers from across the world to build collaborative expertise across the boundaries of traditional area studies. Our distinctive location in Doha puts us at the crossroads between landmasses labelled traditionally as Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and indeed, Europe and North America. As we work with new archives, fieldsites, and scholarly interlocutors, we endeavor to consolidate existing knowledge as well as create new knowledge on the circularities that define the past and present of Indian Ocean worlds.

We invite papers from new and established scholars producing cutting-edge scholarship on topics ranging from the political economy of trade to the sociocultural dynamics of interlocking littoral societies across this vast oceanic space. While we welcome papers on all kinds of Indian Ocean circularities, we are particularly interested in 

  1. mobile networks of capital and labor,
  2. diasporic circularities generated by European imperial expansion and its aftermath,
  3. circularities shaping personhood and the dynamics of kinship, households, and the distinctive socio-legal categories and cultural interactions that arise from them,
  4. literary, cinematic, and artistic circularities that bind together places and peoples, and
  5. transnational religious communities.

Flight and hotel expenses for all conference participants will be covered by the organizers. A commitment to participate in the conference implies a commitment to contribute to a volume emerging out of our deliberations. Prospective participants should send a title and abstract of approx. 250 words via a file named Firstname_Lastname.docx to Georgetown Box by November 25, 2019.