Brownell, Gone to Ground

In this podcast, Dr. Emily Brownell (University of Edinburgh) discusses with Dr. Philip Gooding (IOWC) her recently-published book, Gone to Ground: A history of environment and infrastructure in Dar es Salaam (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020). Dr. Brownell’s book breaks new ground in urban environmental history, discussing how Dar es Salaam’s urban inhabitants oriented themselves to the city’s rural peripheries to literally ‘build’ the urban environment in the 1970s and early 1980s. In so doing, she puts into conversation the everyday experiences of commuters, farmers, and factory workers with concerns about broader structures, including climate change, the 1970s oil crisis, and international conservationism. In this discussion, Dr. Brownell also touches on themes of gender and the idea of ‘crisis’ in Africanist scholarly writing, and she discusses aspects of her forthcoming project: Stories from the Substrate, which aims to narrate East African history from the soil through a variety of case studies of how people, animals, and plants have made and remade the region in the last century.

For more on Dr. Brownell’s work, see her university profile.

For more on Gone to Ground, see her page with University of Pittsburgh Press.

Jalais, Tigers, Tiger Food, and Mental Health in the Sundarbans

In our latest episode of the Indian Ocean World Podcast, Prof. Annu Jalais, an anthropologist and an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore, talks about the Sundarbans, the largest delta in the world that sprawls across India and Bangladesh along the Bay of Bengal. The Sundarbans supports a unique biodiverse environment of mangroves, tigers, crocodiles, snakes, and humans. Prof. Jalais tells us how she developed an interest in the region as a high school student; why it’s imperative for any researcher to understand the forests and its tigers before writing historical and anthropological studies of the Sundarbans; and how the relationship between humans and nonhumans, especially tigers, have highlighted the narratives of development and politics around it in the Sundarbans. Prof. Jalais also discusses a serious impact of climate change in the Sundarbans: disaster fatigue resulting from ever shifting river embankments that change the contours of forested and inhabited lands, regular cyclones, and close encounters with nonhumans (tigers, crocodiles, and snakes) that often have a telling effect on the mental health of the inhabitants of the Sundarbans.
Bio page:

Our “Southern Collective” website on the northern Indian Ocean:
Map of the Sundarbans region (it keeps changing so download it from here):
Image: Wikicommons – Sundarban Tiger []

Goldstein, Indonesia’s Peatlands and Environmental Politics

In this podcast, the IOWC interviews Professor Jenny Goldstein of Cornell University on her research into Indonesia’s peat lands. Her interview offers a discussion of her unique journey from architecture to geography, and an in-depth explanation of how the Indonesian peat lands became her subject of study. She further explores the value of so-called degraded lands from a biodiversity and regenerative standpoint, exploring diverse techniques of rice growth in Peatland environments. Moreover, Professor Goldstein offers a nuanced understanding of how the development of oil palm plantations on Indonesia’s peat lands has had multiple effects, including production of divergent scientific knowledge on whether oil palm plantations across Indonesia’s peat lands lead to more carbon emissions or not, how these debates shape legislations concerning agriculture and forests in Indonesia, and what could be the climatic impact of such policies eventually.

Relevant Links:

Links to relevant publications:

This podcast was produced with the help of Renée Manderville (Project Manager, IOWC), Archisman Chaudhuri and Philip Gooding (both postdoctoral fellows, IOWC, McGill).

Image: Patrice Levang. Smoldering peat soil in rice paddy, Central Kalimantan, late 1997. 

Boswell, Ocean Cultures and Heritage

Prof. Rosabelle Boswell (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University) discusses with Philip Gooding (IOWC) her recent appointment as the South African Research Chair in Ocean cultures and heritage. This is a new and exciting position designed to contribute to the sustainability of the ocean and to build partnerships with stakeholders. Prof. Boswell discusses her aims for the position, its interdisciplinary characteristics, the challenges therein, and how her past and ongoing research engages with the themes of ocean cultures and heritages.

For more on the South African Research Chair in Ocean cultures and heritage, see: here

For the articles mentioned in the podcast, see:

Rosabelle Boswell, ‘Sega as voice-work in the Indian Ocean region,’ Journal of the Indian Ocean Region, 13, 1 (2017).

Rosabelle Boswell, ‘Sensuous stories in the Indian Ocean islands,’ The Senses and Society, 12, 2 (2017).

Image credit: Reuters/Stephane Antoine. A volunteer cleans oil spilled from the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground on a reef, at the Mahebourg Waterfront in Riviere des Creoles, Mauritius, 12 August 2020. 

Günaydı, Contextualising environmental contingencies

Mustafa Emre Günaydı, a PhD student at Iowa State University and a research assistant working on the IOWC’s Appraising Risk partnership, presents his ongoing research into the environmental history of the Ottoman Empire. In this podcast, he discusses a work in progress, in which he analyses the effects of the 1831 floods, epidemic, and locust invasion in Baghdad within the context of wider geopolitical developments and leaders’ responses to natural and human challenges.

For more on Mustafa’s work, see his Iowa State profile:


Campbell, The Travels of Robert Lyall

Gwyn Campbell, founding director of the IOWC, discusses with Philip Gooding, a postdoctoral fellow at the same institution, his forthcoming book, The Travels of Robert Lyall, 1789-1831: Scottish surgeon, naturalist and British agent to the court of Madagascar, which will be published with Palgrave in early 2021:

The discussion takes the listener through Scotland, London, Russia, and Madagascar. It explores several themes in IOW history, including imperialism, slavery, missionaries, indigenous institutions and beliefs, and the latter’s political, cultural, and social encounters with European empires and ideologies.

McQuade, A Genealogy of Terrorism

Dr. Joseph McQuade (University of Toronto) discusses his recent published book, A Genealogy of Terrorism: Colonial law and the origins of an idea (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 2020), as well as his ongoing postdoctoral research.

In A Genealogy of Terrorism, McQuade demonstrates how the modern concept of terrorism was shaped by colonial emergency laws dating back into the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Beginning with the ‘thugs’, ‘pirates’, and ‘fanatics’ of the nineteenth century, McQuade traces the emerging and novel legal category of ‘the terrorist’ in early twentieth-century colonial law, ending with an examination of the first international law to target global terrorism in the 1930s. Drawing on a wide range of archival research and a detailed empirical study of evolving emergency laws in British India, he argues that the idea of terrorism emerged as a deliberate strategy by officials seeking to depoliticize the actions of anti-colonial revolutionaries, and that many of the ideas embedded in this colonial legislation continue to shape contemporary understandings of terrorism today.

Interviewer: Philip Gooding (IOWC); Producer: Renee Manderville (IOWC).

Schottenhammer, Maritime Disasters, Risk Appraisals, and exchanges of Medicinal Knowledge in maritime East Asia

Prof. Angela Schottenhammer (KU Leuven) discusses her and her team’s ongoing research into maritime disasters, risk appraisals, and exchanges of medicinal knowledge in East Asian Waters in c.1500-1800. Several themes are discussed, which transcend the disciplines of climate history, maritime archaeology, and medical history. She refers to typhoons, currents, diseases, and the material cultures of medical practitioners, referring to both East Asian and European sources.

Prof. Schottenhammer and her team are furthermore working on a video called, ‘Piracy in Historical Asia.’ It will be published here, where you can also find out more details now.

Prof. Schottenhammer has additionally published (and continues to publish) widely. More details can be found at; and Additionally, some of her most important recent and forthcoming publications include:

Angela Schottenhammer (ed.), Early Global Interconnectivity Across the Indian Ocean World, 2 vols (Cham, CH: Palgrave, 2019): vol. I, Commercial Structures and Exchanges; vol. II, Exchange of Ideas, Religions, and Technologies.

Robert Antony and Angela Schottenhammer (eds.), Beyond the Silk Roads: New Discourses on China’s Role in East Asian Maritime History (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 2017) 

Wim De Winter, Angela Schottenhammer, Mathieu Torck (eds.), Seafaring, Trade, and Knowledge Transfer:  Maritime Politics and Commerce in Early Middle Period to Early Modern China [CROS Crossroads – History of Interactions across the Silk Routes] (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2021), forthcoming.

Angela Schottenhammer, “‘Peruvian Balsam’: An Example of Transoceanic Transfer of Medicinal Knowledge’, Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 16:69 (2020), 1-20.

 Angela Schottenhammer, Major ‘International’ Currencies of China and Japan: The Use of Copper Coins, Silver Ingots and Paper Money”, in Steven Serel, Gwyn Campbell (eds.), Currencies of the Indian Ocean World (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), 17-48.

Angela Schottenhammer, “Die zunehmende Einbindung Chinas in die Welt des Indischen Ozeans bis zum Beginn der Song-Dynastie: Seewege, Verbindungen und Handel”, in Raimund Schulz (Hrsg.), Maritime Entdeckung und Expansion. Kontinuitäten, Parallelen und Brüche von der Antike bis in die Neuzeit, Sonderband der Historischen Zeitschrift (Oldenburg: De Gruyter Verlag, 2019), 139-173.

Angela Schottenhammer, “16-18 seiki ni okeru taiheiyō o matagu suigin no mitsu bōeki” アンゲラショッテンハマー著、「1618世紀における太平洋を跨ぐ水銀の密貿易」, transl. by Hideaki Suzuki 鈴木英明, in Hideaki Suzuki 鈴木英明編訳 (ed.) Nettowaku to kaiiki: Higashi Ajia kara yūbō suru sekaishi 『ネットワークと海域東アジアから眺望する世界史』(Akashi shoten, 2019), 230-264.

Angela Schottenhammer, “China’s Rise and Retreat as a Maritime Power”, in Robert Antony, Angela Schottenhammer (eds.), New Discourses on China’s Role in East Asian Maritime History (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 2017), 189-211.

Angela Schottenhammer, Consolidating Southeast Asia and the Meaning of Force in History: Pax Ming and the Case of Chen Zuyi 陳祖義 (d. 1407)”, China and Asia: A Journal of Historical Studies (2021), forthcoming.

 Angela Schottenhammer, Mathieu Torck, Wim De Winter, “Surgeons and Physicians on the Move in the Asian Waters (15th to 18th Centuries)”, Haiyangshi yanjiu 海洋史研究 (2021), in press.

 Angela Schottenhammer, Maritime Disasters and Risk Appraisals in the East Asian Waters”, Études thématiques (2021), forthcoming.

 Angela Schottenhammer, “Some Remarks on the Use and Provision of Camphor in Early Modern China and in Spanish Asian and American Colonies”, in Festschrift for Paul David Buell, ed. by Timothy May (2021), forthcoming.

 Angela Schottenhammer, “Insights into Global Maritime Trade Around 1600”, in Festschrift for Ranabir Chakravarti, ed. By Suchandra Gosh et al. (Bloomsbury: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2021), forthcoming.

Xu Zhexin, Tang-Song transition era maritime activities in E and SE Asia

With the help of Dr. Alexander Jost, Xu Zhexin (both University of Salzburg) discusses his PhD research into the history of maritime activities in South and Southeast China and its neighboring regions during the co-called Tang-Song transition period, which is based on his analysis of official records, inscription sources, and visual materials. Thank you also to Prof. Angela Schottenhammer (KU Leuven) for facilitating this interview.

For more on Prof. Schottenhammer’s work and Xu Zhexin’s place in it, see:

Galvin, Sustainable organic farming and questions of value

Prof. Shaila Seshia Galvin (Graduate Institute of International Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland) discusses with Renee Manderville, Philip Gooding, and Archisman Chaudhuri (all IOWC) her anthropological and sociological work on organic Basmati rice farming in the Doon Valley, Uttarakhand,  India. She explores how a locally produced commodity acquires new meanings through organic certification procedures, as well as the socio-economic and cultural implications of such agrarian practices for sustainable trade and development.

For more information about Prof. Galvin’s work, please see: