Reinterpreting Indian Ocean Worlds: Essays in Honour of Kirti N. Chaudhuri
Editor: Stefan C. A. Halikowski Smith
Date Of Publication: Jun 2011
The Indian Ocean World was an idea borne out by researchers in economic history and trade in the 1980s in response to the compartmentalization of specific area studies within the wider rubric of Asian civilisations and culture. Professor Kirti N. Chaudhuri’s books Trading World of Asia and the English East India Company (1978), and then Trade and Civilization in the Indian Ocean (1985), figured amongst the forefront of this new movement in historical thinking, undertaking detailed historical analysis, first of the English East India Company, and then a comparative cultural history of Asian material life and civilisation. Today, historians continue to hold on to the idea of an Indian Ocean world, although studies now follow a number of different threads, from themes like linguistics and creolization, to the seeds of national consciousness. By presenting a number of studies here, gathered into the themes of ‘Intermixing,’ ‘The World of Trade’ and ‘Colonial Paths,’ it is hoped we can render tribute to one of the outstanding historians in this field and reflect the plenitude of current research in this subject area.
This volume comes about from conversations first held between ex-students of Professor Kirti N. Chaudhuri during the autumn of 2008. Sadly, one of the spiriti movens of this project, James Kaye, was tragically killed in a boating accident in February 2011. Many of the contributors to this volume, now in academic posts across Europe, were trained under K. N. Chaudhuri’s wing at the European University Institute in Fiesole, Italy, where Chaudhuri held the prestigious Vasco da Gama Chair until his retirement in 2000. Other contributors met and were influenced by Chaudhuri’s work during his long career of service to the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, England. This volume is a tribute to Chaudhuri’s enduring intellectual legacy over the fields of Imperial History and Asian Studies, and a gesture of thanks to the brilliant conversation and personal warmth he repeatedly shared us with.
Stefan C. A. Halikowski Smith is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of History at Swansea University, Wales.
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