58 episodes

Interviews with scholars of the Indian Ocean World about their new books
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New Books in the Indian Ocean World New Books Network

    • Arts
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Interviews with scholars of the Indian Ocean World about their new books
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    Ismail Fajrie Alatas, "What Is Religious Authority?: Cultivating Islamic Communities in Indonesia" (Princeton UP, 2021)

    Ismail Fajrie Alatas, "What Is Religious Authority?: Cultivating Islamic Communities in Indonesia" (Princeton UP, 2021)

    What Is Religious Authority?: Cultivating Islamic Communities in Indonesia (Princeton UP, 2021) by Ismail Fajrie Alatas draws on groundbreaking anthropological insights to provide a new understanding of Islamic religious authority, showing how religious leaders unite diverse aspects of life and contest differing Muslim perspectives to create distinctly Muslim communities. Taking readers from the eighteenth century to today, Alatas traces the movements of Muslim saints and scholars from Yemen to Indonesia and looks at how they traversed complex cultural settings while opening new channels for the transmission of Islamic teachings. He describes the rise to prominence of Indonesia’s leading Sufi master, Habib Luthfi, and his rivalries with competing religious leaders, revealing why some Muslim voices become authoritative while others don’t. Alatas examines how Habib Luthfi has used the infrastructures of the Sufi order and the Indonesian state to build a durable religious community, while deploying genealogy and hagiography to present himself as a successor of the Prophet Muḥammad. Challenging prevailing conceptions of what it means to be Muslim, What Is Religious Authority? demonstrates how the concrete and sustained labors of translation, mobilization, collaboration, and competition are the very dynamics that give Islam its power and diversity.
    Ismail Fajrie Alatas is an assistant professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, and History at New York University. 
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    • 1 hr 48 min
    Jyoti Gulati Balachandran, "Narrative Pasts: The Making of a Muslim Community in Gujarat, C. 1400-1650" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Jyoti Gulati Balachandran, "Narrative Pasts: The Making of a Muslim Community in Gujarat, C. 1400-1650" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Jyoti Gulati Balachandran's Narrative Pasts: The Making of a Muslim Community in Gujarat, c. 1400-1650 (Oxford University Press, 2020) explores the complex power of Sufi texts in creating Muslim communities in Gujarat from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries. Balachandran focuses on three main Sufi saints, including Ahmad Khattu, whose disciples chronicled his life and legacy through various literary productions in Persian and Arabic. The study provides a social history of Gujarat through a deep analysis of Sufi textual traditions, such as compilations of public assemblies (malfuzat) and genealogical and biographical (tazkirat) texts. The complex process of textual production and architectural developments, such as Sufi shrines, in Gujarat showcases a vibrant and complex history of Islam, one that hinges on Gujarat sultans, Suhrawardi Sufis, and local Muslim communities. The book provides significant insights into Gujarat’s sultanate and Sufism, while also further complicating the history of medieval and early modern South Asian Islam. This book will be of interest to those who think and write about Sufism, South Asian Islamic history, sacred spaces and textual production and much more.
    Shobhana Xavier is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Queen’s University. More details about her research and scholarship may be found here and here. She may be reached at shobhana.xavier@queensu.ca. You can follow her on Twitter via @shobhanaxavier.
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    • 1 hr 6 min
    John Wong, "Global Trade in the Nineteenth Century: The House of Houqua and the Canton System" (Cambridge UP, 2016)

    John Wong, "Global Trade in the Nineteenth Century: The House of Houqua and the Canton System" (Cambridge UP, 2016)

    In Global Trade in the Nineteenth Century: The House of Houqua and the Canton System (Cambridge University Press, 2016), John D. Wong examines the Canton trade networks that helped to shape the modern world through the lens of the prominent Chinese merchant Houqua, whose trading network and financial connections stretched from China to India, America and Britain. In contrast to interpretations that see Chinese merchants in this era as victims of rising Western mercantilism and oppressive Chinese traditions, Houqua maintained a complex balance between his commercial interests and those of his Western counterparts, all in an era of transnationalism before the imposition of the Western world order. The success of Houqua and Co. in configuring its networks in the fluid context of the early nineteenth century remains instructive today, as the contemporary balance of political power renders the imposition of a West-centric world system increasingly problematic, and requires international traders to adapt to a new world order in which China, once again, occupies center stage.
    John D. Wong is associate professor at the School of Modern Languages and Cultures and the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Hong Kong. His research focuses on the flow of people, goods, capital and ideas. With a particular interest in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta area, he explores how such flow connected the region to the Chinese political center in the north as well as their maritime partners in the South China Sea and beyond. He is the co-convenor of a new collaborative research project titled "Delta on the Move: The Becoming of the Greater Bay Region, 1700 – 2000."
    Ghassan Moazzin is an Assistant Professor at the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the Department of History at the University of Hong Kong. He works on the economic and business history of 19th and 20th century China, with a particular focus on the history of foreign banking, international finance and electricity in modern China. His first book, tentatively titled Banking on the Chinese Frontier: Foreign Banks, Global Finance and the Making of Modern China, 1870–1919, is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press.
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    • 1 hr 2 min
    Anand A. Yang, "Empire of Convicts: Indian Penal Labor in Colonial Southeast Asia" (U California Press, 2021)

    Anand A. Yang, "Empire of Convicts: Indian Penal Labor in Colonial Southeast Asia" (U California Press, 2021)

    Empire of Convicts: Indian Penal Labor in Colonial Southeast Asia (University of California Press, 2021) (University of California Press, 2021) focuses on male and female Indians incarcerated in Southeast Asia for criminal and political offenses committed in colonial South Asia. From the seventeenth century onward, penal transportation was a key strategy of British imperial rule, exemplified by deportations first to the Americas and later to Australia. Case studies from the insular prisons of Bengkulu, Penang, and Singapore illuminate another carceral regime in the Indian Ocean World that brought South Asia and Southeast Asia together through a global system of forced migration and coerced labor. A major contribution to histories of crime and punishment, prisons, law, labor, transportation, migration, colonialism, and the Indian Ocean World, Empire of Convicts narrates the experiences of Indian bandwars (convicts) and shows how they exercised agency in difficult situations, fashioning their own worlds and even becoming “their own warders.” Anand A. Yang brings long journeys across kala pani (black waters) to life in a deeply researched and engrossing account that moves fluidly between local and global contexts.
    Anand A. Yang is the Walker Family Endowed Professor in History and Professor of International Studies at the University of Washington. His monographs include the books The Limited Raj: Agrarian Relations in Colonial India; Bazaar India: Peasants, Traders, Markets and the Colonial State in Gangetic Bihar; and the edited volumes Crime and Criminality in British India and Interactions: Transregional Perspectives on World History.
    Kelvin Ng hosted the episode. He is a Ph.D. student at Yale University, History Department. His research interests broadly lie in the history of imperialism and anti-imperialism in the early-twentieth-century Indian Ocean circuit.
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    • 1 hr 21 min
    Emily Callaci, "Street Archives and City Life: Popular Intellectuals in Postcolonial Tanzania" (Duke UP, 2017)

    Emily Callaci, "Street Archives and City Life: Popular Intellectuals in Postcolonial Tanzania" (Duke UP, 2017)

    Emily Callaci's book Street Archives and City Life. Popular Intellectuals in Postcolonial Tanzania (Duke University Press, 2017) tells the histories of the young migrants who shaped the city of Dar es Salaam between 1967 and 1985. During this period, the ruling party, TANU, pursued the policy of Ujamaa or African socialism which sought the future of African independence in traditional villages and rural areas rather than cities. Despite the increasingly anti-urban policies of the Tanzanian state, and the stringent economic and social conditions that prevailed in Dar es Salaam, young migrants continued to move to the city. 
    Armed with the ability to read and write acquired through the extensive literacy campaigns organized by the Tanzanian state, young migrants reflected upon and negotiated the many challenges that awaited them in the new urban environment. They created new communities and new ways of belonging by producing a rich body of cultural artifacts that constituted an unofficial archive where urban dwellers left testimony of their circumstances and experiences. Callaci explores the music performed at dance halls, advise literature for young girls, pulp fiction novellas and the very lexicon that urban dwellers used to both describe and re-shape a new urban landscape, all forged under the pressures of economic decline and African socialism but focused on the promises of prosperity and liberation.
    Esperanza Brizuela-Garcia is an associate professor of history at Montclair State University.
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    • 1 hr 4 min
    Arunima Datta, "Fleeting Agencies: A Social History of Indian C****e Women in British Malaya" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

    Arunima Datta, "Fleeting Agencies: A Social History of Indian C****e Women in British Malaya" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

    Fleeting Agencies: A Social History of Indian C****e Women in British Malaya (Cambridge UP, 2021) disrupts the male-dominated narratives by focusing on gendered patterns of migration and showing how South Asian women labour migrants engaged with the process of migration, interacted with other migrants and negotiated colonial laws. This is the first study of Indian c****e women in British Malaya to date. In exploring the politicization of labour migration trends and gender relations in the colonial plantation society in British Malaya, the author foregrounds how the migrant Indian 'c****e' women manipulated colonial legal and administrative perceptions of Indian women; their gender-prescriptive roles, relations within patriarchal marriage institutions, and even the emerging Indian national independence movement in India and Malaya. All this, to ensure their survival, escape from unfavourable relations and situations, and improve their lives. The book also introduces the concept of situational or fleeting agency, which contributes to further a nuanced understanding of agency in the lives of Indian c****e women.
    Arunima Datta is a historian of South and Southeast Asia and the British Empire. Her main area of research interest focuses on the transnational mobility of South Asians in the colonial period (nineteenth and twentieth century) across different parts of the British Empire. Much of Dr. Datta’s research has simultaneously also focused on themes of labor history, transnational Indian nationalism, women’s and gender history. In addition to Fleeting Agencies, she has also published a number of articles and chapters, concerning South Asian labor, migration and women’s histories. Her current research project is centered around the migration and mobility of Indian Travelling Ayahs (travelling nannies) across the British Empire in the nineteenth and twentieth century. Dr. Datta also serves as a member of the editorial board for the journal Gender & History, Journal of Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society and Asian Journal of Social Science Studies.
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    • 1 hr 14 min

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