Project

From Baghdad to Canton: Sailors, Slaves, and Global Blackness in Medieval Maritime Asia

Program

Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies Early Career Fellowships

Department

Religion

Abstract

By examining Arabic, Persian, and Classical Chinese sources in conjunction with the latest archaeological findings across Southeast Asia, this project aims to recover a silenced history of medieval transregional seafaring from the perspective of sailors, especially black sailors recruited from places ranging from East Africa to Southeast Asia. In drawing attention to the portrayals of black sailors across multilingual historical and literary works, this research hopes to reconceptualize global blackness as a notion that encompasses and transcends Africa and the African diaspora. Ultimately it aims to explore the possibility of theorizing a "Black Pacific" where Southeast Asia instead of Africa is the heart of transregional networks.