Transcultural Networks: From the Red Sea to the South China Sea, 1000–1800. Continuities and Transformations
Abstract In focusing on transcultural networks of the Indo-Mediterranean, this paper aims to provide insights into the cultural and economic genealogies of globalisation as well as into the divergent ancestries of its social geographies. Its methodological objective is to examine the extensive Indian, Southeast Asian, Arab and Chinese interaction in the littoral regions of Malabar, the Bay of Bengal, the Indonesian Archipelago and the South China Seas in the medieval and early modern period. Thereby, rather than underscoring
the significance of merely economic factors implicated in this maritime connectivity, other relevant (and hitherto largely neglected) aspects will be discussed, namely the enactment of political sovereignty (as a layered and shared concept), the crucial significance of resilient networks (defined by mercantile, cultural and social factors) as well as of widespread dynamic diasporic communities (of Chinese, Southeast Asians, Indians, Persians and Arabs), and last but not least, the flow and exchange of ‘cargoes’ (including both commodities and intellectual ideas). In doing so, an attempt will be made to ascertain the continuities and transformations (subsequent to the entry of European companies) in the pelagic patchwork quilt of the Eastern Indian Ocean until the beginning of the 19th century.