International Conference Relations and Networks in Indian Ocean Writing
Venue: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain
Dates: November 26th - 27th 2015
Organized by the group Ratnakara

The Indian Ocean is a cultural and economic system that dates back over five thousand years as Malays, Chinese, Arabs, Indians and Africans traded across it for centuries before the Europeans set foot in the area. Since the 1980s Indian Ocean studies have gained impetus, particularly among social scientists, and current debates on transnationalism are based on recent research carried out by scholars who have gradually understood the Indian Ocean as a network rather than as discrete geographical regions. New paradigms have been generated to explore the unity of the Indian Ocean world: a cultural approach to the sea as a fluid world of globalization; the idea of the islands as Creolized spaces which encapsulate experiences of slavery and indenture and Islam as a framework of cultural and commercial life.  

The diverse people who have crisscrossed the waters of the Indian Ocean have contributed to its configuration as a liminal space of hybrid evolution, whose boundaries are both moveable and porous. There is an emerging body of literature that seeks to re-situate Africa in the Indian Ocean World and pays particular attention to the connective role of the Indian Ocean.  The arrival of European colonialism did its utmost to box people into neat nationalities whereas the concept of the nation state meant little to the wider unities of the Indian Ocean world. The political frontiers of the Indian Ocean area fail to contain or explain the fluidity of its borders and the connectedess of its communities.  

Thus the Indian Ocean needs to be regarded as a unifying element, connecting peoples and events across the ocean and at the same time a divisive element that fragments and distances communities through space and time.  It is a mine of cultural experience with multiple connections that link the countries of its western shores with the Indian subcontinent.  We invite papers that focus on the relations and networks that bind the communities that inhabit the shores of the Indian Ocean and which generate debate on notions of integration and fragmentation in Indian Ocean writing.  Suggested topics for discussion include:


  • Hybridity in Indian Ocean cultures: in the visual arts, cinema, dance, music
  • Indian Ocean Languages: creolization, code-switching, translation
  • Indian Ocean Identities: South-South relations, diasporas from India to Africa or vice versa
  • Convergence and Polarization: gender, class and ethnicity in the Indian Ocean
  • Subversive Relations: queerness in gender, class and ethnicity in the Indian Ocean
  • Networking in the Indian Ocean: from the monsoon trade to the digital age

Submissions that do not directly deal with the aforementioned topics will also be considered.

Papers should be no longer than twenty minutes.

Abstracts between 200-300 words should be sent to

Author information is to be provided on a separate sheet, including name, affiliation, contact address, title of paper and short bio-note (100 words).

EXTENDED DEADLINE for abstracts :  July 3rd  2015.
Notification of acceptance: 1st September 2015

A selection of papers will be published in Issue 4, “Indic Crossings”  of Indialogs Spanish Journal of India Studies, in 2017.