Modernisms along the Indian Ocean is a research project that traces how the Indian Ocean connects the intertwined regions of Europe, Africa and Asia through the port cities that line its coastline. These port cities are hubs of exchange, cultural heritage and community, demonstrating the great geopolitical influence of the Indian Ocean in today’s complex world.
The architecture, infrastructure, environment and hinterlands of these port cities reveal a multitude of stories about the areas connected by the Indian Ocean. Traditionally the scene of countless encounters and contacts, from peaceful exchanges to colonialism and imperialism, ports are places where cultural heritage, both material and intangible, is created, and where different diasporas and communities emerge.
In times of global crisis, the strategic location of the Indian Ocean and its port cities adds to its influence. Although Western political powers and academics still regularly overlook the region, whether consciously or unconsciously, the Indian Ocean is a crucial lynchpin in global relations – historically, politically, economically, ecologically and spatially.
How far does the Indian Ocean’s influence reach? The research explores the different narratives and pressing issues associated with the territories around the ocean, bringing together a network of different voices and perspectives. Together, they show how these different territories are intertwined. Over a number of years, the project will use case studies, collaborations and meetings to create a multifaceted, fluid narrative of the interrelated conditions of the ocean, its boundaries and the port cities that act as its intermediate channels.