Edward Alpers, UCLA professor of history, has published a new book, "The Indian Ocean in World History" (Oxford University Press, 2013).
Alpers explores the complex issues involved in cultural exchange in the Indian Ocean Rim region from the third millennium B.C.E. to the present day by combining a historical approach with the insights of anthropology, art history, ethnomusicology and geography. The Indian Ocean witnessed several significant diasporas during the past two millennia, including migrations of traders, indentured laborers, civil servants, sailors and slaves throughout the entire basin. Alpers explores the cultural exchanges that diasporas cause, telling stories of identity and cultural transformation through language, popular religion, music, dance, art and architecture and social organization.
"The Indian Ocean in World History" also discusses issues of trade and production that show the long history of exchange throughout the Indian Ocean world, politics and empire-building by both regional and European powers and the role of religion and religious conversion, focusing mainly on Islam, but also mentioning Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity. Using a broad geographic perspective, the book includes references to connections between the Indian Ocean world and the Americas. In his considerations of the 20th and 21st centuries, Alpers discusses issues such as the new configuration of colonial territorial boundaries after World War I and the search for oil reserves.