HIS110Y1: History of the Indian Ocean World


This course introduces you to the connected and interdependent world people who lived between the present day cities of Dakar, in West Africa, and Jakarta, in Indonesia, from about 1000 to the present. We explore in this class the three "C"s which have linked human experience in Africa and Asia via routes which connected the Indian Ocean World: Connectedness, Contingency, and Cosmopolitanism. We study how people who lived more than a thousand years before our time transported ideas, products, and scripts by land and sea via routes that connected large parts of Africa, Central & South Asia, and East and Southeast Asia, and their histories. The land and sea routes connected these communities and the cosmopolitan outlook of the hosts provided the contingent conditions for a Buddhist monks to travel from all over China to Southern and Southeast Asia; Muslim scholars to travel from West Africa to Indonesia; and merchants and writers to move within these worlds. Human migration, economic trade, and religious conversion had linked the lands and the seas, making it possible for our imams, merchants, monks, and servants to traverse these territories, across the Africa and Asia. This vibrant and wealthy world of African and Asian thinkers, merchants, leaders, and communities became the envy of the world, and as late as the seventeenth century, these crazy rich Africans and Asians dominated the world as it was known. We'll see how history is contingent--and that human migration, economic exploitation, lack of reciprocity, and legacies of European colonial racism have disrupted the cosmopolitan worlds of the Indian Ocean. The world is different today, but more than three quarters of the human population still live in Africa and Asia--see the richness of their worlds as it was for thousands of years, and what will be left for the people of this world as climate change makes the seas rise.

Society and its Institutions (3)