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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 May 2014

Felicitas Becker
University of Cambridge
Joel Cabrita
University of Cambridge


The Indian Ocean is frequently depicted as a sphere of seamless connectivity, characterized by fluid and wide-ranging exchanges between traders, sea-farers, clerics, intellectuals, and authors. We seek to nuance this depiction by highlighting the importance of specific, place-bound social concerns that tempered these cosmopolitan performances of citizenship with more exclusionary dynamics. Our goal is to emphasize the importance of context, contingency, and circumstance in shaping and breaking new forms and practices of citizenship and its twin – exclusionary politics – on Africa's Indian Ocean littoral.

Special Feature: Africa and the Indian Ocean
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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We are grateful to the Arts & Humanities Research Council for a Research Networking Grant that funded a workshop in Cambridge, UK in April 2012 on ‘Languages of Citizenship in Africa and the Indian Ocean’ (RG64713). We are also grateful to the anonymous readers for The Journal of African History for comments upon earlier drafts. Our thanks to Miles Irving for designing the map accompanying this special feature. Authors’ email addresses: and


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