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Article

Regional Organizations and Geopolitics in the Indian Ocean  

Derek McDougall

Regional organizations in the Indian Ocean need to be understood in their geopolitical context. The sense of “regionness” in the Indian Ocean is weak. There is some focus on the oceanic region as a whole, but also on the various sectors of the ocean: northwest, northeast, southwest, and southeast. India, China, and the United States are the most important of the major powers involved, with their interests and engagement extending across the whole ocean. Other extraregional powers include Japan, Russia, and the European Union (EU). Among the middle powers, the most important are France (especially in the southwest sector), Australia (southeast), South Africa (southwest), and Indonesia (northeast), with the United Kingdom also playing a role. Some Middle Eastern states (especially Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates [UAE]) are involved in the Indian Ocean because the northwest sector has a strategic significance for issues in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. Then there is the “rest,” the range of Indian Ocean littoral and island states that are affected by developments in the Indian Ocean, especially in areas adjacent to their own territories. There is only one comprehensive regional organization based on the whole Indian Ocean: the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). There is also a comprehensive regional organization for the southwest sector: the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC). Most of the other Indian Ocean organizations focus on different kinds of maritime activities. The more significant regional organizations affecting the Indian Ocean are those relating to the adjoining regions but with some Indian Ocean involvement. These are the organizations relating to southern and eastern Africa, the Persian/Arabian Gulf, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.

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The Ottoman Empire and the Indian Ocean  

A. C. S. Peacock

With its conquest of the Arab lands in the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire (1300–1923) came to control some of the major entrepots of the Indian Ocean trade in the west. This expansion, however, also brought the Ottomans into confrontation with the Portuguese, who were seeking to establish a monopoly of the lucrative spice trade. In the first half of the 16th century, Ottoman involvement was limited to the western half of the Indian Ocean, but in the later 16th century, the Southeast Asian sultanate of Aceh forged an alliance with the Ottomans, which, if short-lived in practice, was to attain considerable symbolic importance in later times. Ottoman involvement in the Indian Ocean resumed in the 19th century, again as a reaction to European colonial activities. In the meantime, both commercial and religious links, in particular the hajj, meant that the Ottomans had a prominent role in the Indian Ocean despite only controlling limited littoral territories.

Article

Bengal Delta  

Iftekhar Iqbal

Located between the foothills of the eastern Himalayas and the northern shores of the Bay of Bengal, the Bengal Delta has been for more than a millennium a major frontier region of the subcontinent, a gateway to the Indian Ocean and an evolving cultural hub. Because of its frontier location, the region has experienced the interplay of domination and independence from northern Indian imperial powers. Its location also allowed it to connect with the western Indian Ocean as well as the Southeast Asian and South China maritime spaces, making it a long-term player in international trade. These spatially induced political and economic experiences and a remarkable mobility of people and ideas from and into the region shaped a culture that was regionally rooted yet open to cosmopolitan ethos. It was not until the arrival of late colonial national imaginations when the Bengal Delta’s regional integration was put to the test, which resulted in its splitting into two parts: West Bengal of India and Bangladesh.

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Postcolonial Fiction, Oceans, and Seas  

Kritish Rajbhandari

While Pan-Africanist and Pan-Asianist movements from the early to mid-20th century sought transnational alliances against Western imperialism, anti-colonial nationalisms during the late 20th century emphasized national independence and sovereignty and forged notions of culture and identity based on land and territorial belonging. Hence, the territorial nation as the primary site of anti-colonial struggle emerged as the dominant scale of critique within the field of postcolonial literary studies. However, the transnational turn in the humanities has also brought into focus aspects of postcolonial fiction that look beyond colonial and national boundaries. Postcolonial writers and critics have turned to the ocean and the seas for alternative spatialization to challenge land-based methodologies overdetermined by nationalist and area-studies paradigms. Scholars have theorized different spatial scales for ocean-based criticisms drawn from geographical, historical, and cultural contexts. In all three of the world’s major oceans, the sea has been a site of imperial interpellation as well as a traumatic passage into slavery, servitude, and exile. Scholars of the Black Atlantic have contributed oceanic frameworks that center the sea and the ship as the locus for Afro-diasporic experiences, whether as a fluid foundation for a transnational community, as a site of collective memory, or as an abyss of the Middle Passage that continues to structure Black lives globally. Writers from the Indian Ocean and Pacific regions have similarly sought to recuperate alternative maritime histories and indigenous epistemologies that contest the narratives of the ocean as an empty space claimed by Western imperialisms and globalization. Scholars of ocean-oriented postcolonial writing have emphasized horizontal modes of relations, such as Afro-Asian connections in the Indian Ocean or indigenous-indigenous connections in the Pacific. Postcolonial fictions often deploy forms of magical realism, speculation, pastiche, and fragmentation to convey the absences and silences in the historical archive and alternative epistemologies and ontologies of the colonized. These texts revisit the sea voyages of the past from the perspectives of the enslaved, indentured, and colonized subjects, enabling ways to rethink narratives of globalization from the periphery. They include fictions that depict littoral regions and communities as a site of physical and cultural permeability between the land and the sea, undermining territorial or ethnic exclusivism. While some novels are diasporic narratives reflecting on transoceanic migrations, whether forced or voluntary, undertaken in the past, others depict the perils of sea journeys undertaken by present-day migrants in the Mediterranean or the Caribbean. Certain fictions also engage with the impacts of continuing militarization of world’s oceans, such as the construction of military bases and nuclear tests in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Still others draw on indigenous knowledge to shed light on the tenuous relationship with the ocean while depicting impacts of global warming and climate change on the precarious existence of both human and nonhuman beings of the sea.

Article

The Chagos Archipelago  

Marina Carter

The Chagos Archipelago comprises fifty-five Indian Ocean islands on five coral atolls, which were little known and uninhabited until the 18th century. Small exploratory settlements were set up by the French and British from the 1770s, but the archipelago was not permanently occupied until after the Napoleonic Wars. Collectively—with Agalega—known as the oil islands because of the exploitation of coconut plantations, the atolls were leased and later sold to Mauritian and Seychellois settlers who employed slaves and later nominally “free” laborers to collect, dehusk, and press the coconuts to produce oil. Economically in decline for most of the 20th century, the Chagos archipelago was controversially detached from Mauritius during independence negotiations in the 1960s and reconstituted as the British Indian Ocean Territory. Some 1,500 islanders were displaced and, as Chagossians, have engaged in a series of legal battles to reclaim their homeland. Currently only one island on the southernmost atoll—Diego Garcia—is occupied, utilized as an American military base; it was declared a Marine Protected Area in 2010. Mauritius has been internationally recognized to have the strongest claim to sovereignty of the archipelago but some Chagossians are calling for independent statehood.

Article

The Appropriation of Islam in the Maldives  

Boris Wille

The Maldives is one of four Muslim majority countries in South Asia. The contemporary Islamic Republic of the Maldives frames itself as a “100 percent Muslim nation.” The state religion is Islam, all 380,000 citizens are Muslims by law, and the practice of other religions is prohibited. Ever since the first Muslim exposure, probably in the 10th century, Islam has gradually evolved into a sociocultural configuration that affects most domains of archipelagic society and culture. It shapes foreign relations, informs legislation, and influences arts and architecture, as well as language and scripture. Scholarship of Islam and Islamization in the Maldives acknowledges the historical trajectories of the appropriation of Islam as well as its contemporary relevance in Maldivian identity and state politics.

Article

Unfree Labor in Colonial South Asia  

Andrea Major

Various forms of labor obligation, coercion, and oppression existed in colonial India, but the supposed dichotomy between “free” and “unfree” labor was rarely absolute. European slave-trafficking, internal trades in women and children, domestic slavery, caste-based obligations for agricultural and other labor, and capitalist systems such as indenture represented distinct but overlapping forms of “unfree” labor in the South Asian context. Enslaved Indians were exported to various European colonial possessions in the 17th and 18th century or provided domestic services within the homes of both the European and Indian elites. Meanwhile, various preexisting local labor relationships such as begar, caste-based obligation, and debt bondage involved elements of coercion, control, and ownership that mirrored some of the characteristics of slavery. These underwent significant changes in the colonial period, as the colonial state both tapped into and sought to reshape the Indian labor market to suit the needs of the imperial capitalist economy.

Article

Origins of British India  

Tirthankar Roy

The origin of British India can be traced to warfare in 18th-century Europe and India, trade-related conflicts and disputes, and the East India Company’s business model. The state that emerged from these roots survived by reforming the institutions of capitalism, military strategy, and political strategy. As the 19th century unfolded and its power became paramount, the Company evolved from a trading firm to a protector of trade. The rapid growth of the three port cities where Indo-European trade and naval power was concentrated exemplifies that commitment. But beyond maintaining an army and protecting trade routes, the state remained limited in its reach.

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The Chagos Islands and Indian Ocean Geopolitics  

Steffen F. Johannessen

Located in the central Indian Ocean, the Chagos Archipelago was uninhabited until the late 18th century. Midway between India and Mauritius, the clusters of coral atolls were sighted and named by Portuguese pilots in 1512. From the mid-1700s, during the wars between France and Britain, the islands started gaining strategic importance as potential naval bases or supply stations on the India route. Claimed by France, and managed from the French colony of Mauritius, Franco-Mauritian colonizers imported enslaved laborers from Africa and Madagascar to produce copra and coconut oil for a favorable wartime market in Mauritius. By the end of the Napoleonic Wars, sovereignty had shifted to British hands. After slavery was abolished, the coconut industries were supplied by Indian indentured laborers. Small societies developed around the island industries, which would continue to produce until the second half of the 20th century. To make way for a joint UK–US military base on the largest island, Diego Garcia, British authorities separated the Chagos Archipelago from the rest of their Mauritian colony and established the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) in 1965. To accommodate the US Pentagon’s base strategies, British authorities evicted the entire local population to Mauritius and the Seychelles between 1965 and 1973. By the mid-1980s the military base was fully operational. As a forward operations facility strategically located between East Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Indonesia, Diego Garcia became one of the United States’ most important overseas military bases. From its airstrip, bomber aircrafts attacking targets in Afghanistan and Iraq have lifted and returned. Located along central Indian Ocean shipping lines, the strategic value of the base also connects to the growing export economy of China and that of India, and these major regional states’ dependence on energy imports. The joint UK–US base is, however, highly controversial. International bodies have repeatedly called for full decolonization and the return of the Chagos Archipelago to Mauritius. Objections to the Indian Ocean militarization it represents have a long history, and exiled members of the Chagossian community have continuously fought for their right to repatriation. In other words, the history of the military base, now substantiated by disclosed files revealing how British and American authorities conspired and lied to create it—has become one of the most central threats to this central geopolitical establishment in the Indian Ocean.

Article

Japanese Textiles in East Africa  

Hideaki Suzuki

Between the 1920s and 1980s, East African consumers were strongly attracted to Japanese textiles, especially cotton, and Japanese manufacturers paid careful attention to that market. The relationship between the both east and west ends of the historical Indian Ocean developed when Japan was in the industrialization phase, which was led by its textile industry at a time during the postabolition period when East Africans were developing a keen interest in the new fashions, which contributed to their keenness to create a new self-identification. Nonetheless, the situation cannot be understood simply by looking at the general relationship between Japan and East Africa. In fact, from the mid-1910s onward, there were many occasions when the Chinese market—the largest for all Japanese products, including textiles—boycotted Japanese products. Then came the Great Depression, when the creation of bloc economies and the raising of tariffs negatively affected Japan’s textile exports to its existing major markets such as the United States, India, and China. On the other hand, there was a space for Japanese textiles to enter the East African market under the free trade principle of the Congo Basin Treaties, which Japan ratified in 1919. Japanese textile exports to East Africa eventually peaked in 1935 but then declined until they ceased altogether during the 1940s as a consequence of World War II and the devastation of Japan immediately postwar. However, beginning in the 1950s, the trade revived and went on to again occupy a large market share, which it maintained until the early 1980s. The history of Japanese textiles in East Africa is more than simply one part of the history of Japan’s relationship with Africa; rather, it is a topic which embeds conjunctions and entanglements of local, regional, and global contexts as well as interaction between consumer and producer—and not forgetting the middlemen.

Article

Women in Seychelles  

Penda Choppy

Seychellois society is generally perceived to be matrifocal. This is because women’s influence is considered all pervasive, from the family unit to church and political activities and public service institutions. Since its social revolution in the last quarter of the 20th century, Seychelles has been considered very avant-garde in its promotion of women in responsible positions. It is important to note, however, that though this promotion of women has not specifically targeted any social class, it is working-class women who have benefited the most from it. In the first place, the working class in Seychelles has always been a much larger majority. The landowning and merchant class have, since the early settlement period and throughout colonial history, been restricted to a few but very influential people. Thus, though women in these classes have also benefited from social reform and emancipation, it has not been the norm to assess changes within their ranks simply because their numbers are negligible compared to the working class. Second, social reform in Seychelles was led by a socialist government, which emphasized a classless society, with the intention of leveling the field for working-class people. Thus, women’s emancipation has almost always been seen from a working-class perspective. If there is an economic middle class in 21st-century Seychelles, it has emerged from the working class. Thus, this article tends to focus on the working class. It is also important to note that a result of women’s emancipation and accession to prominent positions in government and middle management has been the perceived tendency to emphasize the failures of the male population. With no less than ten women’s associations in existence and the current global push for promoting women’s causes, Seychellois men have begun to feel marginalized and have formed their own associations to promote their cause and image. However, the matrifocal nature of Seychellois society might indeed be just a perception. In effect, men still hold the top positions in key domains of power such as the Cabinet and Parliament. Women ministers are often perceived as having been promoted through the benevolence of a male presidency. In fact, there is a certain amount of gender power conflict in Seychelles, which might result from (a) the clashing of patriarchal and matriarchal systems imposed by colonialism, (b) male subjugation and female exploitation during and after slavery, and (c) female emancipation during the socialist era.

Article

The Indian Ocean and Africa  

Edward A. Alpers

The Indian Ocean has occupied an important place in the history of Africa for millennia, linking the continental land mass to the peoples, products, and ideas of the wider Indian Ocean world (IOW). Central to this relationship are environmental factors, including the biannual operation of monsoon winds, which determined the maritime movement of people, things, and ideas. The earliest of these connections involve the movement of food crops, domestic animals, and commensals both from and into Africa and its offshore islands. From the beginnings of the Current Era, Africa was an important Indian Ocean source of valuable commodities, such as ivory and gold; in more recent times, hardwood products like mangrove poles, and agricultural products like cloves, coconuts, and copra gained economic prominence. Enslaved African labor also had a long history in the IOW, the sources and destinations for the export trade varying over time. In addition, for centuries many different Indian Ocean immigrant communities played important roles as settlers, merchants, sailors, and soldiers. In the realm of culture and ideas, African music, dance, and spiritual concepts accompanied those Africans who were forcibly removed from the continent to the different Indian Ocean lands where they were enslaved. A further indicator of Indian Ocean connectivity is Islam, the introduction of which marks an important watershed in African history. The human settlement of Madagascar marks another significant Indian Ocean connection for Africa. At different times and in different ways, colonial rule—Portuguese, Dutch, Omani, French, and British—tied eastern African territories to India, Arabia, and Southeast Asia. Since regaining independence, African nation-states have established a variety of new linkages to other Indian Ocean states.

Article

The Swahili in the African and Indian Ocean Worlds to c. 1500  

Abdul Sheriff

The East African coast is an interface between the continental world of Africa and the maritime world of the Indian Ocean, and the monsoons provided a convenient wind system to link them. It was inhabited by a littoral society that was best placed to play a leading role in economic, social, and cultural interaction, including intermarriage, between the two worlds. Its written history goes back at least to the beginning of the Contemporary Era, and it can be termed Swahili from the beginning of the second millennium when this branch of the Bantu languages spread down the coast to give it linguistic unity. Its speakers were organized in towns and villages from southern Somalia to northern Mozambique, which developed into city-states when there were major upturns in international trade and were integrated in the wider Indian Ocean world. The citizens spoke an “elegant” language that was further embellished through its interactions with Arabic and other Indian Ocean languages and literature. Islam spread with that trade, and mosques became a prominent part of the archaeological remains along the Swahili coast. In the process, the Swahili became thoroughly cosmopolitan. Any attempt to disentangle the different strands, “oriental” or “African”—which are two sides of the dense cultural fabric of the littoral people—is bound to be futile. They are two sides of the Swahili coin. This civilization was partially disrupted by the entry of the Portuguese in the 16th century when they tried to divert the spice trade to their channel around the Cape of Good Hope, but it revived during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Article

History of the Seychelles  

Richard B. Allen

The history of the Seychelles since the islands’ colonization in 1770 has been shaped by their physical geography, location in the western Indian Ocean, and peripheral status in the French and British colonial empires. The archipelago’s social, economic, and political history reflects its role in facilitating the slave trade that funneled hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans and Malagasies toward the Mascarene Islands of Mauritius and Réunion between 1770 and the early 1830s, the development of cotton and then coconut plantation agriculture, and its status as a Mauritian dependency until it became a separate British Crown Colony in 1903. Economic and political life after independence in 1976 included a coup d’état in 1977 that led to the establishment of a one-party socialist state in 1979, a return to multiparty democracy in 1993, and the country’s increasing economic dependence on tourism during the late 20th and early 21rst centuries.

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Spices in the Ancient World  

Matthew Cobb

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Food Studies. Please check back later for the full article. The movement and consumption of spices and aromatics have been features of human history for many millennia. They have been found in contexts as diverse as early Iron Age Phoenician flasks, containing traces of cinnamon, to black peppercorns inserted into the nose of the mummified Ramses II. Traditionally, these plant (and sometimes animal and mineral) products have been viewed as the preserve of the elite, at least in the Mediterranean world and parts of Europe, where many of them do not naturally grow. However, by the early centuries ce, thanks to a growing web of connections spanning Afro-Eurasia, especially via the Indian Ocean, a much wider range of peoples got a chance to experience spices. This impacted on everything from how their food tasted and smelled to the performance of religious rituals. Advances in archaeobotany and the archaeological sciences are allowing us to build a more complex picture of the contexts in which spice consumption took place, the connected social paraphernalia that were associated with this, and the diversity of people involved. Moreover, these methods and bodies of data are contributing to our identification of the spices and aromatics that were being consumed, adding more detail to the sometimes-hazy picture provided by ancient authors.

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Africa and Its Diasporas under Slavery  

Walter Hawthorne

Diasporas result when people from the same place, real or imagined, migrate to another place, settle together, and produce new generations. African diasporas before 1900 resulted from forced migrations, spurred by the trade in enslaved people from the continent into the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, Red Sea, and across the Sahara Desert. The identities that Africans in diasporas professed and cultures that they created and recreated differed across time and space. Among the things that shaped African diasporic cultures were the nature of linkages to African homelands and the political, economic, religious, and social structures of the broader societies in which African diasporas were situated. These and other factors meant that African diasporas in Indian Ocean societies were very different from those in Atlantic Ocean societies. Generally, over time enslaved Africans in diaspora around the Indian Ocean sought to become part of broader cosmopolitan communities and did not associate themselves with an African homeland. Enslaved Africans in diaspora around the Atlantic Ocean built communities that were apart from those of their enslavers and identified with African homelands. However, in some periods, societies with slaves in the Americas offered opportunities for enslaved people to become part of dominant institutions, and some enslaved people could take advantage of those opportunities to forge new lives for themselves and others. Everywhere African diasporas formed, those people who composed them shaped local and global histories in ways that are evident today.

Article

Interannual Variability of the Indian Monsoon and Its Link to ENSO  

Fred Kucharski and Muhammad Adnan Abid

The interannual variability of Indian summer monsoon is probably one of the most intensively studied phenomena in the research area of climate variability. This is because even relatively small variations of about 10% to 20% from the mean rainfall may have dramatic consequences for regional agricultural production. Forecasting such variations months in advance could help agricultural planning substantially. Unfortunately, a perfect forecast of Indian monsoon variations, like any other regional climate variations, is impossible in a long-term prediction (that is, more than 2 weeks or so in advance). The reason is that part of the atmospheric variations influencing the monsoon have an inherent predictability limit of about 2 weeks. Therefore, such predictions will always be probabilistic, and only likelihoods of droughts, excessive rains, or normal conditions may be provided. However, even such probabilistic information may still be useful for agricultural planning. In research regarding interannual Indian monsoon rainfall variations, the main focus is therefore to identify the remaining predictable component and to estimate what fraction of the total variation this component accounts for. It turns out that slowly varying (with respect to atmospheric intrinsic variability) sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) provide the dominant part of the predictable component of Indian monsoon variability. Of the predictable part arising from SSTs, it is the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) that provides the main part. This is not to say that other forcings may be neglected. Other forcings that have been identified are, for example, SST patterns in the Indian Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and parts of the Pacific Ocean different from the traditional ENSO region, and springtime snow depth in the Himalayas, as well as aerosols. These other forcings may interact constructively or destructively with the ENSO impact and thus enhance or reduce the ENSO-induced predictable signal. This may result in decade-long changes in the connection between ENSO and the Indian monsoon. The physical mechanism for the connection between ENSO and the Indian monsoon may be understood as large-scale adjustment of atmospheric heatings and circulations to the ENSO-induced SST variations. These adjustments modify the Walker circulation and connect the rising/sinking motion in the central-eastern Pacific during a warm/cold ENSO event with sinking/rising motion in the Indian region, leading to reduced/increased rainfall.

Article

The Indian Diaspora in Tanzania  

Ned Bertz

The Indian diaspora in Tanzania emerged in waves from the subcontinent. While its internal religious and cultural diversity has been a hallmark, the diaspora accreted into a political category and community identity through the crucibles of colonialism and nationalism. Its origins were more disparate. East Africa and western India—especially peninsular Gujarat and Kutch—were fused by the monsoon winds that drove premodern Indian Ocean trade, when small numbers of Indian merchants sojourned and settled across the sea. The diaspora received a fillip after the Sultan of Oman shifted his capital to Zanzibar in 1840, granting positions to Indians and attracting trade and migration, largely of Indian Muslims. Britain used the suppression of the slave trade—in which its Indian subjects had participated vigorously—as a wedge to declare a protectorate over Zanzibar and established Tanganyika on the mainland after German East Africa was ceded following World War I. This was a boom time for settlement from India, and while the migrants were mostly poor, they thrived in the transformation into an imperial diaspora, working within segregated colonial structures and attaining advantages denied to Africans. Indians—a majority of them Shia Muslims of several sects—numbered around 110,000 when African nationalism won independence in Tanganyika and Zanzibar in the early 1960s, and in the postcolonial period their privilege made them targets of public animosity and state action. While protected by the inclusivist first president of united Tanzania, the diaspora integrated into the new nation in limited ways. When socialist reforms nationalized housing and made business challenging in the 1960s and 1970s, almost half of the Indians left, largely to Canada and the United Kingdom. Those who remained suffered occasional moments of political pressure even after socialism collapsed, but in the early decades of the 21st century they continue to reside in urban centers as a secure but marked minority with lives revolving around commerce and diverse community institutions.

Article

The Indian Ocean Dipole  

Saji N. Hameed

Discovered at the very end of the 20th century, the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is a mode of natural climate variability that arises out of coupled ocean–atmosphere interaction in the Indian Ocean. It is associated with some of the largest changes of ocean–atmosphere state over the equatorial Indian Ocean on interannual time scales. IOD variability is prominent during the boreal summer and fall seasons, with its maximum intensity developing at the end of the boreal-fall season. Between the peaks of its negative and positive phases, IOD manifests a markedly zonal see-saw in anomalous sea surface temperature (SST) and rainfall—leading, in its positive phase, to a pronounced cooling of the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean, and a moderate warming of the western and central equatorial Indian Ocean; this is accompanied by deficit rainfall over the eastern Indian Ocean and surplus rainfall over the western Indian Ocean. Changes in midtropospheric heating accompanying the rainfall anomalies drive wind anomalies that anomalously lift the thermocline in the equatorial eastern Indian Ocean and anomalously deepen them in the central Indian Ocean. The thermocline anomalies further modulate coastal and open-ocean upwelling, thereby influencing biological productivity and fish catches across the Indian Ocean. The hydrometeorological anomalies that accompany IOD exacerbate forest fires in Indonesia and Australia and bring floods and infectious diseases to equatorial East Africa. The coupled ocean–atmosphere instability that is responsible for generating and sustaining IOD develops on a mean state that is strongly modulated by the seasonal cycle of the Austral-Asian monsoon; this setting gives the IOD its unique character and dynamics, including a strong phase-lock to the seasonal cycle. While IOD operates independently of the El Niño and Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the proximity between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and the existence of oceanic and atmospheric pathways, facilitate mutual interactions between these tropical climate modes.

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The Suppression of the Transoceanic Slave Trade  

Hideaki Suzuki

Since the last quarter of the 18th century, the suppression of the transoceanic slave trade had been under way. A popular movement became active in Britain, while a number of US states abolished the trade in the last quarter of the 18th century. Denmark abolished the trade completely in 1803, Britain in 1807, and the United States in 1808. After the Congress of Vienna, the British took the initiative in creating a network of bilateral and multilateral treaties to legalize naval suppression of the slave trade in the Atlantic, and, accordingly, Britain, the United States, France, and Portugal stationed naval squadrons off the African coast. From the 1840s onwards, another network to suppress slave supply was formed with African rulers, those agreements providing in some cases both justification and the practical basis for European territorial expansion in Atlantic Africa. The Europeans’ antislave-trade activity caused the Atlantic African economy to shift toward so-called legitimate commerce, and, since the 1960s, evaluation of that economic transition has been at the core of debate among historians of West Africa. In the 1810s in the Indian Ocean, similar progress toward suppression of the slave trade took place almost simultaneously with that of its Atlantic counterpart, although progress was much quicker in the Atlantic. In fact, the suppression campaign in the Indian Ocean, which began with various treaties concluded by the British with local polities, gathered full force only from the 1860s. Interestingly, in Indian Ocean Africa the relationship between the suppression of the slave trade and imperial territorial occupation was more distant than on Africa’s Atlantic rim. The suppression of the transoceanic slave trade cannot be understood without a multifaceted perspective, because this subject is connected to and so must be integrated with various fields, including naval, political, economic, legal, and social history. The transoceanic slave trade must therefore be located within a much wider context.