Writing the Indian Ocean


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships




The Indian Ocean, connecting the East Asian, South Asian, Arab and African coasts, is known as the cradle of globalization. This project examines the distinctive themes and forms of four representative novelists in whose work the Indian Ocean is produced as an alternative, cross-national geography. It focuses on Joseph Conrad, alongside Amitav Ghosh from India, Abdulrazak Gurnah from Zanzibar, and Lindsey Collen from Mauritius, whose work represents the geographical and imaginative scope of the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean allows these authors to write with empire at a distance and to focus on South-South interactions, deemphasizing national narratives and subverting Eurochronology. At the same time, they bring the Indian Ocean into being, not only its borders and networks, but also its vivid, sensuous, storied world. The book will represent the first full-length study conducted on the question of broad literary Indian Ocean continuities and differences, as expressed in English.