Cosmopolitan Cultures and Oceanic Thought  book cover
1st Edition

Cosmopolitan Cultures and Oceanic Thought

  • Available for pre-order on February 28, 2023. Item will ship after March 21, 2023
ISBN 9781032292977
March 21, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge India
250 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

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



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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.