© 2018

Connectivity in Motion

Island Hubs in the Indian Ocean World

  • Burkhard Schnepel
  • Edward A. Alpers

Part of the Palgrave Series in Indian Ocean World Studies book series (IOWS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxvi
  2. Themes

  3. Case Studies: Swahili Coast, Zanzibar and the Comoros

  4. Case Studies: Mid-Ocean Archipelagos

  5. Case Studies: South and Southeast Asia

About this book


This original collection brings islands to the fore in a growing body of scholarship on the Indian Ocean, examining them as hubs or points of convergence and divergence in a world of maritime movements and exchanges. Straddling history and anthropology and grounded in the framework of connectivity, the book tackles central themes such as smallness, translocality, and “the island factor.” It moves to the farthest reaches of the region, with a rich variety of case studies on the Swahili-Comorian world, the Maldives, Indonesia, and more. With remarkable breadth and cohesion, these essays capture the circulations of people, goods, rituals, sociocultural practices, and ideas that constitute the Indian Ocean world. Together, they take up “islandness” as an explicit empirical and methodological issue as few have done before.


Indian Ocean islands Indian Ocean world Comparative Ethnography Island Studies Indian Ocean history island hubs Western Indian Ocean history Connectivity the island factor pre-colonial Indian Ocean world history of maritime trade subnational island jurisdictions history of Kilwa trade Zanzibar consumer culture Comoros diaspora Chagos archipelago Big Men politics Maldives healthcare Ambon spice trade

Editors and affiliations

  • Burkhard Schnepel
    • 1
  • Edward A. Alpers
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Social and Cultural AnthropologyMartin Luther University of Halle-WittenbergHalleGermany
  2. 2.Department of HistoryUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

About the editors

Burkhard Schnepel is Professor of Social Anthropology at the Martin Luther University in Halle, Germany, and a Fellow at the Max Planck Institute of Social Anthropology. 

Edward A. Alpers is Research Professor in the Department of History at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA

Bibliographic information


“Connectivity in Motion is a rare achievement. Bringing together a rich variety of original perspectives, this collection takes the cutting-edge concept of connectivity as its anchor, applying it to the role of Indian Ocean islands. This is an innovative move, and the result is timely and relevant to scholars across many disciplines, including anthropology and geography. Emerging from a uniquely close cooperation between historians and anthropologists, the fascinating case studies presented here will advance new methodologies for studying maritime regions.” (Julia Verne, Professor of Geography, University of Bonn, Germany)