The Indian Ocean region has historically been a cradle of civilization, supporting seafaring and trade as well as flows of culture, language, and religion. Today, the coastline of the Indian Ocean is home to hundreds of millions of people. In the nineteenth century, tens of millions of migrants left India, Africa, and China to resettle throughout the European empires after the formal abolition of slavery. Their histories have not been written or shared extensively, but this conference examined and discussed the experiences, languages, customs, culture, and identities of those who embarked on these journeys.
Participants discussed not only the diversity of the region, but also the transnational forces that united the people and places of the Indian Ocean, such as seafaring trade, sciences, and the faiths of Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, and Buddhism. This conference also examined the simultaneous embrace and rejection of collective national history and identity in an era when nations were not yet formed.
This event is supported by a Georgetown University India Initiative seed grant and is hosted by the Department of English, the Program on Justice and Peace, and the Office of the Vice President for Global Engagement.