Moorings: Indian Ocean Trade And The State In East Africa
Ever since the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, especially post - 9/11 and the "War on Terror," the Kenyan coast and the Indian Ocean beyond have become flashpoints for national and international security. The predominantly Muslim sailors, merchants, and residents of the coast, with transnational links to Somalia, the Middle East, and South Asia have increasingly become the object of suspicion. Governments and media alike assume that these longstanding transnational linkages, especially in the historical sailing vessel or dhow trade, are entwined with networks of terror. This study argues that these contemporary security concerns gesture to an anxiety over the coast's long history of trade and social relations across the Indian Ocean and inland Africa. At the heart of these tensions are competing notions of sovereignty and territoriality, as sovereign nation-states attempt to regulate and control trades that have historically implicated polities that operated on a loose, shared, and layered notion of sovereignty and an "itinerant territoriality." Based on over twenty-two months of archival and ethnographic research in Kenya and India, this dissertation examines state attempts to regulate Indian Ocean trade, and the manner in which participants in these trades maneuver regulatory regimes. Ethnographic research on board sailing vessels or dhows as they are docked at Mombasa's Old Port, and amongst residents of Mombasa and Lamu suggests that regulation has pushed these trades into the shadow economy where the lines between legal and illegal trade are blurred. This has led to increased insecurity, giving rise to many rumors that attempt to make sense of uncertainty. In an environment of increased regulation and surveillance, participants of these trades and residents of these port cities also respond by seeking to establish social orders that are not anchored in the modern nation-state, harnessing imaginaries that gesture to an Indian Ocean past and alternative conceptions of belonging. Focusing on the everyday life and maneuvers of sailors, merchants, and activists, this dissertation demonstrates that Indian Ocean trade and social relations persist in the contemporary era, these linkages only made visible through a focus on trade and social relations that lie at the margins of the Kenyan state.
Indian Ocean; Anthropology; History
Tagliacozzo,Eric; Blackburn,Anne M.; Hodzic,Saida; Meier,Prita
Ph. D., Anthropology
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis