While the longue durée history of the Indian Ocean involves the constant movement of peoples, tracing such migration has often undervalued the dynamic commercial, cultural, and religious exchanges between Asia and Africa over extended historical periods. Indeed, many sites of the Indian Ocean World (including coastal belts and their hinterlands and myriad islands) evidence the cross-pollination and transformation of cultural performances, modes of being, and ways of knowing—many of which have traditionally been assigned to specific “source” cultures or geographies. Expressions of transoceanic consciousness—visible through hybrid architectural structures, material cultures, cuisines, sacred geographies, literatures, music, and linguistic traditions—point to the prevalence, within the oceanic scape, of fluid localities and practices. These localities are constantly redefined by unscripted processes and transversal ontologies that transfigure subjects, spaces, cultures, and ecosystems by disrupting the fixity of established cartographies and ascribed identities. In Indian Ocean studies, while much attention has been devoted to studying mobilities, commercial and kinship networks, and religious exchanges, artistic transactions, shared affinities, and transcultural expressions remain under-researched.
This issue of Verge thus invites original essays that pay special attention to alternative narratives, uncharted networks, and invisible cartographies of the Indian Ocean World that call for a re-assessment of localities, idioms, and scapes. Building on new scholarly frameworks—such as Indian Ocean Studies, Afro-Asian Studies, and theories of the Global South—that have expanded the perspectives through which we define and theorize relations beyond the inherent tension of postcolonial studies, we solicit work that maps the dissemination of indigenous knowledge and related practices between Afro-Asian geographies to understand how older frameworks of knowing generate eclectic projections and renderings about Africa in Asia and vice versa. We are particularly interested in considering how vernacular or so-called local expressions and ontological narratives of mobilities foreground complex histories of exchange that construct and disseminate the idea of transcultural consciousness differently. Engaging with the arts, literatures, performances, popular cultures, diasporic narratives, new media, and cinema from both Asia and Africa via the transoceanic circuit of the Indian Ocean, we ask: How do communities construct and reinvent the Indian Ocean as a space of transcultural assemblage? How do creative and expressive cultures reactivate or present occluded (his)stories of shared affinities, ontologies, and knowledge? Topics of interest may include (but are not restricted to): littoral imaginings, navigating languages, performative historiographies, and artistic and bodily practices.
Essays (between 6,000-10,000 words) should be prepared according to the author-date + bibliography format as outlined in section 2.38 of the University of Minnesota Press style guide. More editorial information can be found on the journal's website.