THE HADHRAMI DIASPORA: ISLAM AND INDIAN OCEAN CONNECTIVITY

Tawfiq Alhamedi, Sarah Morris, Skillman Library, Lafayette College 730 High St, Easton, PA 18042

Over centuries merchants, religious scholars, and Sufi mystics have migrated from Hadhramaut, a region in southern Yemen, to various coastal regions of the Indian Ocean. This has led to the formation of Hadhrami diasporic communities in East Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. Noted by scholars as being simultaneously a trade and religious diaspora, Hadhrami migrants created sophisticated and expansive networks of both economic and cultural exchange. Using 14th century descriptions by renowned world traveler Ibn Battuta as a lens into prominent Indian Ocean port cities, this project analyzes and traces his travels in relation to Hadhrami migration and influence on Indian Ocean trade and culture through an interactive map. Visualizing the interconnected Indian Ocean world highlights the importance of this oceanic sphere as a center of premodern long distance trade and provides texture to the arena in which Hadhrami migrants played varying roles as merchants, religious scholars, jurists, and cultural ambassadors. Moreover, orienting the map along lines of medieval Islamic cartography engages with larger questions about human connectivity and the production of maps as a category of geographic knowledge subject to particular histories and perspectives. While economic and world histories have very much been influenced by a Eurocentric teleology, an interdisciplinary analysis of the Hadhrami diaspora challenges assumptions that the medieval world had only small scale cross-cultural interaction and was largely stagnant. Ultimately, this project poses a unique visual perspective and interdisciplinary analysis of Indian Ocean connectivity through the lens of Hadhrami religious and trade networks.


Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Tawfiq Alhamedi

Institution: Lafayette College

Type: Oral

Subject: Interdisciplinary Studies

Status: Approved


Time and Location

Session: Oral 7
Date/Time: Fri 2:00pm-2:20pm
Location: Manning Hall 332
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