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The Indian Ocean Epistemologies Group

Neelima Jeychandran and Emmanuel Bruno Jean-François

Neelima Jeychandran, Postdoctoral Fellow and Research Associate in Asian Studies and African Studies
Emmanuel Bruno Jean-Fr#mce_temp_url#ançois, Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies, and Comparative Literature

The Indian Ocean Epistemologies Group brings together Faculty and graduate students across the College with broad interest in Indian Ocean Studies, as a critical interdisciplinary field that offers new approaches for rethinking globality, mobilities, and transcultural exchanges beyond the frameworks of disciplines and specific area studies. The ancient, pre-modern and modern maritime trade networks in the Indian Ocean facilitated not only the movement of people, but also played a crucial role in facilitating cultural and religious exchanges between Asia, Africa, and the Arab world. Further, the forced and voluntary migrations of Asians and Africans across the Indian Ocean maritime littoral over several centuries have historically reverberated in the memories, literatures, travelogues, religious, architectural, and artistic imaginations of coastal communities across this region. Moving beyond a historical approach to understanding Indian Ocean World cultural matrices facilitated by oceanic networks, this research group aims to focus on artistic and embodied practices, linguistic navigations, and literary imaginations to offer a new template for understanding cross-cultural exchanges in the Indian Ocean, especially between Africa, the Middle East, and Asia in the contemporary milieu. With the aim of making Penn State an important academic center for Indian Ocean Studies, this research group proposes to organize workshop sessions and writing labs in Fall 2019 and in Spring 2020 on the following themes: 1) Littoral Imaginings, 2) Navigating Languages, 3) Rethinking Historiographies, 4) Artistic and Bodily Practices.