• Workshop

Sharpening the edges: Instating state and power in Indian Ocean history. An agenda for critical research and teaching


Monday, 17 August 2015


Leiden University


Leiden University Leiden

A workshop funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and enabled by the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS).

The workshop will take place on Monday 17 August 2015 in Leiden, the Netherlands. It will bring together a group of fifteen scholars, some invited and others selected through this call for papers to discuss the state of research and teaching in the burgeoning field of Indian Ocean history. For historical reasons linked to former colonial empires and continued relations between them and their erstwhile colonies, interest in the Indian Ocean is more visible in the fields of teaching and research in institutions in Europe and Asia rather than in the USA. In keeping with the overall Mellon programme, Rethinking Asian Studies, the workshop aims at triangulating a dialogue between Euro-American and South and Southeast Asian scholars.

Indian Ocean historiographies have arguably succumbed to the new vogue for transnational flows and networks. While a focus on the Indian Ocean world in the recent years has succeeded in breaking down artificial boundaries between regions that for long dominated traditional area studies, especially between South and South East Asia, and shifted the emphasis from the nation-state and its architects to other actors and forces, this change has often left dynamics of power out of the picture. In these often very appealing accounts of moving people and things around the Indian Ocean one fails to identify what historical question is being asked. We therefore ask how scholars might sharpen the edges of the inquiry so that the new oceanic turn can offer a novel point of departure for critiquing the creation of bounded territorial forms and political communities.

For further information about the content of the workshop and the call, please contact prof. Nira Wickramasinghe (Leiden University) at n.k.wickramasinghe@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

Further information about the overall Rethinking Asian Studies Programme: www.rethinking.asia

The organizing committee of the workshop includes: Prof. Nira Wickramasinghe (Leiden Univ), Prof David Henley (Leiden Univ), Dr Marieke Bloembergen (Leiden, KITLV), Prof.  Michael Laffan (Princeton Univ), Prof Bhavani Raman (Univ of Toronto).




Titia van der Maas
Programme Coordinator
Phone: +31 (0)71 527 4728
E-mail: t.van.der.maas@iias.nl