Massoi and Kain Timur in the Birdshead Peninsula of New Guinea, the Easternmost Corner of the Indian Ocean World

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


The notion of an “Indian Ocean world” continues to be debated and redefined among scholars since Alan Villiers helped initiate the concept in his 1952 study, The Indian Ocean. Among them is K. N. Chaudhuri, who sought to “discover the unity and diversity of Indian Ocean civilisations” by examining long-distance trade involving the many different geographic units and cultures that constituted this ocean. He undertook to define the Indian Ocean in its broadest terms, to include not simply the physical unit but also the human one created by people as they followed the trade routes and established relationships across the seas (Chaudhuri 1985, pp. 2–4). Others have since followed his lead or taken new directions in attempting to find the commonalities of this body of water that has been perceived as a unity and arbitrarily named the “Indian” Ocean. Thus the idea of an “Indian Ocean” has spawned a scholarly journal and numerous articles and monographs that have approached the subject from different perspectives.1 A recent innovative study of the Hadrami sayyid diaspora further reinforces the perception of the Indian Ocean world as providing the connectivities across so many lands and cultures (Ho 2006). Such studies, thus far, have reaffirmed Chaudhuri’s statement that the exchange of goods and ideas in the Indian Ocean had indeed created a “common geographical space” (Chaudhuri 1985, p. 21).


Indian Ocean Eighteenth Century Trade Network Trade Route Indian Textile 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Michael Pearson 2015

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  • Leonard Andaya

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