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INTRODUCTION: PERFORMING CITIZENSHIP AND ENACTING EXCLUSION ON AFRICA'S INDIAN OCEAN LITTORAL*

  • Felicitas Becker (a1) and Joel Cabrita (a1)

Abstract

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.

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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: fmb26@cam.ac.uk and jmc67@cam.ac.uk

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1 Africa: Journal of the International Africa Institute, 81:1 (2011).

2 These introductory considerations are not a full survey of Indian Ocean studies. For a recent overview, see Hofmeyr, I., Kaarsholm, P., and Frederickson, B. F., ‘Introduction: print cultures, nationalisms and publics of the Indian Ocean’, in Hofmeyr, , Kaarsholm, and Frederickson, (eds.), Africa: Journal of the International Africa Institute, 81:1 (2011), 122. Ray, H. P. and Alpers, E. A. (eds.), Cross Currents and Community Networks: The History of the Indian Ocean World (Oxford, 2007); Alpers, E. A., East Africa and the Indian Ocean (Princeton, NJ, 2009); Campbell, G. (ed.), The Structure of Slavery in Indian Ocean Africa and Asia (London, 2004); Campbell, G. (ed.), Abolition and its Aftermath in Indian Ocean Africa and Asia (London, 2005).

3 The move away from spatially bounded or national histories has occurred gradually since the 1990s, influenced by concurrent debates on globalisation in the present. There is no single programmatic statement, but see Cooper, F. and Stoler, A. L., Tensions of Empire: Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World (Berkeley, CA, 1997).

4 Kresse, K. and Simpson, E., ‘Between Africa and India: thinking comparatively across the Western Indian Ocean’, ZMO Working Papers, 5 (2011), 12.

5 Chaudhuri, K. N., Asia before Europe: Economy and Civilisation of the Indian Ocean from the Rise of Islam to 1750 (Cambridge, 1991).

6 Braudel, F., The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Phillip II (London, 1972).

7 Bose's, SugataA Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire (Cambridge, MA, 2006), which uses the term ‘universalist aspiration’ (p. 26) is evidence of the persistence of this notion.

8 Freitag, U., Indian Ocean Migrants and State Formation in Hadhramaut: Reforming the Homeland (Leiden, 2003); Ho, E., The Graves of Tarim: Genealogy and Mobility across the Indian Ocean (Berkeley, CA, 2006).

9 Alpers, E. A., Ivory and Slaves in East Central Africa: Changing Patterns of International Trade to the Later Nineteenth Century (Berkeley, CA, 1975); Iliffe, J., A Modern History of Tanganyika (Cambridge, 1979), 687; Wright, M., Strategies of Slaves and Women: Life-Stories from East/Central Africa (London, 1993).

10 Dale, S. F., The Muslim Empires of the Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals (Cambridge, 2010); Golden, P. B., Central Asia in World History (Oxford, 2011).

11 Vail, L. (ed.), The Creation of Tribalism in Southern Africa (London, 1989). For an overview of the literature on ‘created’ vs. ‘primordial’ ethnicity, see Spear, T. T., ‘Neo-traditionalism and the limits of invention in British colonial Africa’, The Journal of African History, 44:1 (2003), 327.

12 Dorman, S. R., Hammett, D. P., and Nugent, P. (eds.), Making Nations, Creating Strangers: States and Citizenship in Africa (Leiden, 2007); Peterson, D. R., Ethnic Patriotism and the East African Revival: A History of Dissent, c. 1935–1972 (Cambridge, 2012).

13 Ho, The Graves of Tarim.

14 See John Bowen on highland Aceh and its relations to lowland, ‘Indian Ocean’. Bowen, Aceh. J., Muslims through Discourse: Religion and Ritual in Gayo Society (Princeton, NJ, 1993).

15 For claims to local status derived from immigrant ancestry, see Velten, C., Sitten und Gebräeuche der Suaheli, nebst einem Anhang über Rechtsgewohnheiten der Suaheli (Goettingen, 1903); and for present-day Mozambique, see Newitt, M. D., A History of Mozambique (Bloomington, IN, 1995).

16 Glassman, War of Words.

17 Vail, Creation of Tribalism; Spear, ‘Limits of invention’.

18 Geschiere, P., The Perils of Belonging: Autochthony, Citizenship and Exclusion in Africa and Europe (Chicago, 2009).

19 Barber, K., The Anthropology of Texts, Persons and Publics (Cambridge, 2008), 1.

20 Hofmeyr, I., The Portable Bunyan: A Transnational History of the Pilgrim's Progress (Princeton, 2003); Hofmeyr, I., Gandhi's Printing Press: Experiments in Slow Reading (Boston, 2013); Larson, P., Ocean of Letters: Language and Creolization in an Indian Ocean Diaspora (Cambridge, 2009).

21 Glassman, J., War of Words, War of Stones: Racial Thought and Violence in Colonial Zanzibar (Bloomington, IN, 2011), ch. 5.

22 Askew, K. M., Performing the Nation: Swahili Music and Cultural Politics in Tanzania (Chicago, 2002).

23 Zimmerman, A., Alabama in Africa: Booker T. Washington, the German Empire, and the Globalization of the New South (Princeton, NJ, 2012); Vinson, R. T., The Americans are Coming! Dreams of African American Liberation in Segregationist South Africa (Athens, OH, 2012).

* 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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INTRODUCTION: PERFORMING CITIZENSHIP AND ENACTING EXCLUSION ON AFRICA'S INDIAN OCEAN LITTORAL*

  • Felicitas Becker (a1) and Joel Cabrita (a1)

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