Panel sponsored by the AEGIS CRG on 'Africa in the Indian Ocean' with a focus on African urban centres on the Indian Ocean coast, connectivities between Africa, the Indian Ocean islands and South Asia, links with rural hinterlands, and the development of forms of trans-Oceanic cosmopolitanism.
In recent years African Studies have been given new inspiration through the integration of an Indian Ocean perspective, which views Africa as not just a continent, but made up economically, politically and culturally through connectivities, mobility and networks. The panel will address the ECAS 7 theme of 'Urban Africa - Urban Africans' by focusing on African urban oceanic centres. It will discuss links between port cities in Africa, the Arab world and South Asia as well as connections between African trade and migration across Indian and Atlantic Ocean networks. It will also discuss smaller coastal towns and urban settlements, where Oceanic connections were prominent and where traders, labourers, migrants, and preachers came to settle and be active. As far as encounters between the rural and the urban are concerned, the panel will explore ways in which Indian Ocean cities and towns interacted with their hinterlands, how Oceanic impacts travelled into the interior, and how people, resources and political and cultural ideas made their way and were influenced by travelling to the coast and beyond. What urban cultures resulted from this? In what ways did 'urbanity' and 'maritimity' clash or blend? A particular focus will be on port cities and towns in the African Indian Ocean islands, which played an important part as stages for the travel of traders, colonialists, slaves, indentured labourers, and religious entrepreneurs, and the panel will address different types of imperial, colonial, nationalist and religious cosmopolitanism that came to have an impact on Africa through the Indian Ocean.