1st Edition

Cosmopolitan Cultures and Oceanic Thought

Edited By Dilip M Menon, Nishat Zaidi Copyright 2023
    280 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    280 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    280 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    This book imagines the ocean as central to understanding the world and its connections in history, literature and the social sciences. Introducing the central conceptual category of ocean as method, it analyzes the histories of movement and traversing across connected spaces of water and land sedimented in literary texts, folklore, local histories, autobiographies, music and performance. It explores the constant flow of people, material and ideologies across the waters and how they make their presence felt in a cosmopolitan thinking of the connections of the world. Going beyond violent histories of slavery and indenture that generate global connections, it tracks the movements of sailors, boatmen, religious teachers, merchants, and adventurers.

    The essays in this volume summon up this miscegenated history in which land and water are ever linked. A significant rethinking of world history, this volume will be of great interest to scholars and researchers of history, especially connected history and maritime history, literature, and Global South studies.

    Note on Contributors



    Nishat Zaidi and Dilip Menon


    Section I: The Poetics of Fluvial Cosmopolitanism


    1. Going Below the Waterline: Hydrocolonial Methods, Creolized Water

    Isabel Hofmeyr


    2.Fellowship and Aversion in the South: The Challenges of South-South Collaboration

    Elleke Boehmer


    3. Found in Prison: The Poetics of Oceanic Histories

    Geeta Patel


    4. Remembering the Bengal Delta: ca. 1450-1850

    Rila Mukherjee


    5. “The wind sketches landscapes of words”: Oceanic poetics in the Horn of Africa and western Indian Ocean”

    Kelsey McFaul


    Section II: Oceanic Narratives


    6. Padmabati of the Oceans: Unfreedom and Belonging in Syed Alaol’s Padmabati

    Swati Moitra


    7. Senses Translated: Paṭappāṭṭus in the Indian Ocean, Circulation of Texts and Sounds across Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit Cosmopoleis

    Ihsan Ul Ihthisam


    Section III: Constructing Space


    8. Of Those on Shore: The Dhow Trade and Mobility in the Indian Ocean

    Nidhi Mahajan


    9. Towards an Architecture of the Indian Ocean: Mapping the Syncretic Grammar of Coastal Cities & Architecture through Ibn Battuta’s Water Journeys (1342-1347)

    Iqtedar Alam


    10. Through the Eyes of the Boat People: Redefining Oceans in the 21st century

    Chrisalice Ela Joseph and Vinod Balakrishnan


    Section IV:  Religion, Knowledge and Law Across the Oceans


    11. Literate Illiterates: Arabi-Malayalam and Parallel Process of Knowledge Production among Muslims in Kerala



    12. ʿUlamāʾ Networks across the Seas: Understanding the Trajectory of Islam in Medieval Malabar

    Mohammed Shameem K. K.


    13. Encountering the ‘Other: Pilgrims at Sea and Accounts of Journeys to Hejaz in the Age of Oceanic Mobility

    Muhamed Riyaz Chenganakkattil


    14. Christianity, Conversion and Caste: Reflecting on Identity in Dalit Christian Malayalam Writings in Post-Colonial India

    Steven S. George


    15. Rainbow Waters: Towards a Queer Coalition between India and Botswana

    Kashish Dua




    Dilip M. Menon is a historian and currently the Mellon Chair in Indian Studies at the University of Witwatersrand. South Africa.

    Nishat Zaidi is Professor and former Head, Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, India.