Call for Papers: Cultural Change in Indian Ocean World, 04/02

Call for Papers: Cultural Change in Indian Ocean World, 04/02


University of California, Los Angeles

5-6 April 2002

Co-Convenors, Edward A. Alpers and Allen F. Roberts


An Indian Ocean World (IOW) linking eastern Africa from the Cape to the Horn, islands of the Indian Ocean, lands of the Indian Ocean Rim from the Red Sea, southern Arabia and the Gulf, and on to South Asia and western Indonesia, has existed for millennia; yet it remains curiously understudied in the West, perhaps because it is one of the most culturally and historically complex regions in the world. While considerable research has been conducted within different disciplines and continental sub-regions on such topics as the history of trade throughout the IOW, the rise of Islam, and material culture associated with these phenomena, we still know very little about cultural elements crossing borders and uniting the region. Yet we know that there have been major cultural exchanges across its waters and around its littoral that date back at least to the beginning of the current era and that these were greatly accelerated following the rise of Islam in the seventh century CE. In our conference we propose to investigate the IOWor perhaps IOWs, as defined from differing perspectives and time framesby focusing on the exchange and reformulation of ideas that have shaped the development of popular culture with a focus upon diasporic communities in general, and that of African descent more specifically. We propose to explore the complex issues involved in cultural transactions throughout the IOW over the course of this long period of time by inviting scholars whose research combines a historical approach with the methodologies and insights of anthropology, art history, ethnomusicology, linguistics, comparative literature, and other fields. Our goals are to expose the richness of the multidirectional sources of cultural exchange throughout the IOW by breaking down traditional academic barriers that have been imposed by prevailing disciplinary and area studies paradigms. Themes of particular interest include:

Process geographies: a dynamic approach to the history of cultural exchange
Defining the IOW in history, now, and in the future Diasporas and creolization in the IOW: case studies Religion and spirituality in the IOW
Artist-scapes: on the sharing of expressive culture in the IOW

We are proposing a working conference of the sort that encourages active cross-disciplinary conversation. We plan to distribute all papers in advance of the conference and for each session to have a commentator whose responsibility it will be to draw out larger themes from the various papers in order to stimulate productive discussion. Individuals wishing to participate are invited to submit a title and short description of their proposed paper in no more than one paragraph by 15 August 2001. All papers accepted for the conference should reach the convenors by 8 February 2002 on disk (preferably PC-formatted Word 6.0 or more recent) and in hard copy.

In addition to panel discussions, we shall organize a roundtable on how to represent historical and contemporary IOWs through a major exhibition at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, which will be the venue for the conference.

If you are interested in participating in the conference, please contact Edward Alpers by email, fax, or post at the address below, and include the following information:

Institution and/or Status
email address
Title of proposed paper
One paragraph abstract

Edward A. Alpers
Department of History
Box 951473
Los Angeles
CA 90095-1473

Tel. (310) 825-2347
Fax(310) 206-9630

Conference sponsors include the University of California Humanities Research Institute and the Vice-Provost for International Studies and Overseas Programs at UCLA

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
Previous MenuHome PageWhat's NewSearchCountry Pages