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29.11. 2018

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31.01. 2019

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    Dr. Iain Walker (Center for Interdisciplinary Area Studies, MLU Halle)

    E-Mail: iain.walker@zirs.uni-halle.de

    The Indian Ocean – a web of political, economic and social connections that encompasses the shores of China and southern Africa, the Red Sea and Australia – has constituted a world system for at least two millennia; the networks linking the shores of the ocean have facilitated a constant if sometimes irregular movement of peoples, and led to the establishment of diasporic communities across the region. Some of these diasporas have great temporal depth: the Hadramis, for example, who have been present in eastern Africa for centuries, if not millennia; the Gujaratis, who are said to have been responsible for the Islamisation of the Malay archipelago; or the Chinese, who in centuries past appear to have settled in places as far afield as the Persian Gulf and eastern Africa as well as in southeast Asia.
    In the nineteenth century, with the expansion of the European colonial empires in the Indian Ocean, there were renewed movements. Some drew upon on pre-existing diasporic relationships to travel while others constituted new diasporas. Many of these diasporans have continued to maintain relationships across the ocean, both with each other and with the homeland. These relationships are often instrumental in framing contemporary practices, constituting individual and group identities, and shaping social, economic and political strategies, providing cohesion within and between different localisations of the diaspora. Diasporas that maintain a diaspora-wide cohesiveness in this way may be characterised as “diaspora for others”: diasporas that do not simply maintain bilateral relationships with the homeland, but who also maintain relationships with other localisations of the diaspora, providing for a holistic sense of diasporic community.