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Semester: Summer term 2019

3.02.131 S Writing the Indian Ocean -  


  • Freitag: 10:00 - 12:00, wöchentlich (12.04.2019 - 12.07.2019)


Recounting his childhood in East Africa under British colonial rule, the Kenyan writer Ngugi wa’Thiongo recalls Christmas feasts with “plentiful of cabaci, thambutha and mandathi, our version of the Indian chapati, paratha, samosa. The spices, curry, hot pepper and all, so very Indian, had become so central a part of Kenyan African cuisine that I could have sworn that these dishes were truly indigenous. … So African it all seemed to me that when I saw Indians drinking tea or making curry, I thought it the result of African influence.”

Such culinary borrowing is only a small sign of the social, cultural, and economic interconnections that define the Indian Ocean. While European colonialism has shaped and intensified these connections, there had been trade, migration, and cultural exchange between East Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and South East Asia for centuries before that.

The seminar will look at three representations of these connections in fiction: M.G. Vassanji’s The In-Between World of Vikram Lall, Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land, and Abdulrazak Gurnah’s Paradise. Along the way, we will look at the politics of writing in English in Africa and South Asia and at the emerging cultural theory of Indian Ocean interconnections. Students will also be able to join a field trip to the conference “Postcolonial Oceans” that takes place in Bremen 30 May – 2 June. This will give you both a window into current research on the subject and maybe also spark some ideas for your own research papers.

Speaking of which: The seminar will put developing your individual research paper front and centre. Researching secondary literature, developing your hypothesis, and structuring your argument will be discussed in class, and smaller working groups will give you the chance to get individual feedback before you start writing. To this end, there will be a tutorial on Fridays, 12:00-14:00 – make sure to reserve this time slot! A precise schedule will be circulated before the term begins.




empfohlenes Fachsemester

(Changed: 2021-04-30)