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Indian Ocean – Transformation of a Seascape

The project investigates the transformations that re-shaped the maritime influenced social and cultural landscape (seascape) of the western Indian Ocean between the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the end of the Second World War. Following up on the project "Indian Ocean – Space on the Move", the focus is now on the flow of people, goods and information that experienced fundamental change during the period under review. The project seeks to identify different socio-economic transformations and to reconstruct overlapping temporal layers and chronologies, thereby considering the various entrepreneurs. In this respect, it also studies the spatial re-organization of the Indian Ocean seascape and its constituent elements.

project publications

Travelling through the War. Discursive Strategies for Encouraging Transoceanic Mobility in the Swahili Military Press of the King’s African Rifles in World War II

Katrin Bromber

The incorporation of the King’s African Rifles (KAR) in Britain’s military strategies led to an increased mobility of East African combat units within the Indian Ocean region during World War II. The necessary changes in Britain’s colonial and information policies, which were introduced and implemented from 1940 onwards, form the background for the central question of the project: what discursive strategies were applied in the Swahili military press to address KAR soldiers as mobile units of combat and to legitimize their out-of-area employment. Applying Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), the project sets up a typology of strategic topoi and their linguistic realization. Newspaper reports criticizing out-of-area employment will be analysed with regard to the existence of a selected or channelled debate on KAR mobility, e.g., by the selection of letters to the editor. Moreover, the project studies the institutional history of the KAR Swahili military newspapers.

Dhow trade in East Africa (1869-1914): an independent "African” economic sector during the colonial period?

Patrick Krajewski

The research project examines the dhow trade on the East African coast between Aden and Zanzibar.
The study concentrates on the structures and change processes of the Arab-African dhow trade after the completion of the Suez Canal and before the outbreak of the First World War. During this period, the established, century-old commercial system in East Africa encountered direct competition in the form of new rapidly spreading transportation facilities (steam navigation lines and railways) . The pursuit of the dhow slave trade flanked by the military was followed by politically motivated trade restrictions as a means of placing dhow traffic under colonial control. At the same time, the growing colonial alignment of East African domestic trade affected the composition of dhow traffic commodities. Based on British and German colonial administration documents, the effect on the dhow trade of the structural change in trade between the hinterland and the coast are to be examined. The applicant’s work on the project will primarily make use of social historical and comparative methods. Beyond that, the work with serial sources requires statistic evaluation methods.