Feminist Futures in the Indian Ocean


About the Cluster
Since Fernand Braudel’s study of the Mediterranean, oceans have provided humanists and social scientists with heuristics through which to decenter the categories of “nation,” “society,” and “continent.” Indian Ocean studies in particular–with its expansive littorals, networks of islands, and port cities connected by trade and migration long before the arrival of Europeans– conceptualizes fluid, cosmopolitan, and networked space. As such, it is a productive framework to examine South-South interactions, migration, globalization, diaspora, ethnicity, race, and religion.

Despite the field’s commitments to Global South solidarities and decolonial thought, Indian Ocean studies has been dominated by economic historians and political theorists who theorize the ocean as metaphor and as object. The masculinist language of “maternal” and “fluid” seas obscures the questions of archive, subaltern histories, embodied knowledges, and inherited practices that are the interest of humanist and feminist inquiry. Given this elision and, more importantly, the lack of explicitly feminist scholarship in Indian Ocean studies, we aim to articulate a range of feminist approaches within the broader theoretical orientations of the social sciences, arts, and humanities, and their application to area studies. We envision a Feminist Indian Ocean epistemology that will extend the field’s commitment to decolonizing scholarship, further destabilize hegemonic formations and boundaries, and allow us to practice alternative ways of being in the world as scholars, activists, and educators.

Principal Investigators
Vilashini Cooppan UCSC Literature
Nidhi Mahajan UCSC Anthropology

Faculty Participants
Madhavi Murty UCSC Feminist Studies
Marc Matera UCSC History
Megan Thomas UCSC Politics
Stacy Kamehiro UCSC History of Art and Visual Culture
Gina Dent UCSC Feminist Studies
Jeffrey Erbig UCSC Latin American and Latino Studies
Lily Balloffet UCSC Latin American and Latino Studies
Bettina Ng’weno UCD African and African American Studies
Smriti Srinivas UCD Anthropology
Vikram Chandra UCB

Graduate Student Coordinators
Axelle Boyer UCSC History of Art and Visual Culture
Hafsa Mohamed UCSC History of Consciousness
Kelsey McFaul UCSC Literature

Graduate Student Participants
Gillian Bogart UCSC Anthropology
Madeline Grimm UCLA History
Joseph Klein UCSC Anthropology
Ariana Pemberton UCB History of Art
Ishani Saraf UCD Anthropology (Sociocultural Wing)
Eveleen Sidana UCD Anthropology (Sociocultural Wing)
Crystal Smith UCSC History
Zahirah Suhaimi UCSC Anthropology
Anuj Vaidya UCD Anthropology (Sociocultural Wing)