« The Indian Ocean and the Global Ocean: What Globalization? »

Panel for the second International Conference of OSOI (20-21 November 2019).

This panel (see the program) will question the process of globalization and its consequences on everyday life in the Indian Ocean area. Today, if we agree with Bruno Latour (2017), there is no more ideal of a world shared by what we have called the West so far. Can we nevertheless declare the end of globalization? From the pre-modern to the contemporary phase of globalization, the so-called “cradle of globalization” that is the Indian Ocean still remains one of the most interesting examples of globalization. On the site of the newspaper “Le Mauricien”, it is observed in June 2017 that “by a twist of history, the acceleration of globalization and the geographic shift of global economy from West to East, the Indian Ocean has regained the geostrategic importance it had prior to the European domination on the world”. In the same way, on the site “YaleGlobal Online”, Harsh V. Pant noted in May 2018 that “framed by Africa and Asia, the Indian Ocean is a potential source of global growth, already carrying two thirds of the world’s oil shipments and half the container traffic”.

But what globalization is it? Is there a specific Indian Ocean globalization that is not limited to economic exchanges? Does this globalization — not to be confused with westernization or Americanization or even economic liberalization — change the way of life and the way we invent our history and stories? Despite the influence of a growing number of nationalist and populist movements and leaders worldwide, can we say that the Indian Ocean is the example of a positive globalization? Are the connections between Indian Ocean nations harmonious and fluid? Can we consider the Indian Ocean as a universal model of exchanges?

Generally speaking, globalization is a buzzword for a very old process of opening up to roads around the world, then, increasing interconnectdness and often interdependance. But recently, a new trend of theories in many disciplines tends to define globalization as a renewed human experience of space. As pointed out by William Scheuerman (2018), “most contemporary social theorists endorse the view that globalization refers to fundamental changes in the spatial and temporal contours of social existence, according to which the significance of space or territory undergoes shifts in the face of a no less dramatic acceleration in the temporal structure of crucial forms of human activity”. Thus, faced to new means of communications, new migratory phenomena and a new temporality in human activities, artists and theorists question globalization as a new representation of space and its correlated notions such as territory, nation, place, etc.

In the case of the Indian Ocean, space will be the focus of this group’s discussions. Whatever the type of space we take into account, be it geographic, economic, imaginary, political, aesthetic or otherwise, we will ask ourselves if whether the Indian Ocean can influence our representation of the world and can alter our vision of a world divided in eastern or western regions. This panel welcomes comparative or transdisciplinary studies that challenge the place of the Indian Ocean in the world or question the interconnectedness between the local and the global in this ocean.


“Agalega and the India-China control of the Indian Ocean”, in Le Mauricien, 19 juin 2017, URL = <https://www.lemauricien.com/article/agalega-and-lndia-china-control-indian-ocean/>

Latour, Bruno. Où atterrir ?, Paris : La Découverte, 2017.

Pant, Harsh V.. “India’s Indian Ocean Challenge”, on “YaleGlobal Online”, 3 May 2018, URL = <https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/indias-indian-ocean-challenge>

Scheuerman, William. “ »Globalization », The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2018/entries/globalization/>.