Cyclonic Lives in an Indian Ocean World: Environment, Race, and Gender in Modern Mauritius


ACLS Project Development Grants




“Cyclonic Lives” is an environmental history of twentieth century Mauritius. Through an integrative analysis of colonial archival material, oral histories, newspapers, and vernacular cultural forms like poetry, music, and legend, “Cyclonic Lives” argues that tropical cyclones are generative events in the historical formation of popular notions of racial identity, gendered personhood, and national belonging on this Indian Ocean island. Whether it be how they made legible the material asymmetries produced by racial difference or how they sparked colonial anxieties over women’s bodies with respect to ecological stability and population growth, this manuscript sheds new light on the historical importance of these storms in the western Indian Ocean World.