There are some very intriguing histories of the Indian Ocean. One such history is related to a former colonial harbor city, namely, Durban, in South Africa, enmeshed as it is in both Indian Ocean histories and histories that are perhaps not directly related to the Indian Ocean. Though Durban is undoubtedly an Indian Ocean port city, as a harbor it is also very much a colonial product, with almost no Indian Ocean precolonial history as far as I know (in this sense, it is a far cry from the port cities of the Swahili coast, for instance, discussed later). Also, nowadays it is clearly a city where the vast majority of inhabitants speak isiZulu, and where there is a substantial Indian minority and even a tiny Zanzibari one, besides, of course, a white minority and a “Colored” one as well. The Zanzibaris and Indians may link Durban to very ancient processes of Indian Ocean creolization that are not necessarily colonial. As common sense would have it, the Indians and Zanzibaris (and at least some of the “Coloreds” and whites) would be enmeshed in Indian Ocean–connected histories, and oceanic processes of creolization, whereas the speakers of isiZulu in town would arguably not be enmeshed in these histories, or at least not to the same degree.


Indian Ocean Port City Local Woman Littoral Society Malabar Coast 
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© Fernando Rosa 2015

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  • Fernando Rosa

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