S4-B: The Indian Ocean as Memory Space

The project asks how the Indian Ocean works as a space of memory in Asian and African memory cultures – especially in South Africa, East Africa, South Asia and China. Our research has so far demonstrated the limiting nature of the ‘Indian Ocean’ approach since Afrasian (Africa-Asian) interactions go beyond the littoral states of the Indian Ocean to China and beyond. This project therefore studies the cultural production of "Indian Ocean Memories” which we perceive of as „Afrasian memories“ (see Karugia 2016, in preparation). Afrasian memories are „connective memories“. They connect, reconnect and articulate transregional historical imaginaries. The ‘Afrasian Ocean’ world connects multiethnic communities. In some of these Afrasian spaces, we observe a paradigm-shift from competitive towards multidirectional memory (in the sense of M. Rothberg 2009).

The project's key question is how the long history of exchange between Africa and Asia is remembered today and which functions such memories fulfil in the light of current interactions. The project starts from the assumption that the centuries-old relations between both regions (trade, migration, slavery, indentured labour, soldiers etc.) are not simply forgotten in the face of today's Afrasian interactions (such as labour migration, tourism, transnational media cultures), but that they constitute a "space of experience" (R. Koselleck) against which the present situation is understood and expectations for the future are articulated. Museums, literature and other media, memory institutions and memory sites across the world of the „Afrasian Ocean“ address human interactions and power dynamics across time and space. We ask how Afrasian memories contribute to an understanding of present and future African-Asian interactions.

In the framework of AFRASO, the project's goals are to understand, first, the significance of historical imagination for transregional conceptions of space and, second, the importance of local memory cultures for the representation and interpretation of current African-Asian interactions. In light of the foregoing, we are analysing the production of contemporary transnational imaginaries of citizenship, the complex negotiation of transcultural identities amongst old Asian-African and new Asian diasporas, claims of long-standing transregional socio-political and cultural links, new and old memory sites built or claimed by certain Afrasian communities and Afrasian bio-politics within old and emergent Afrasian diasporas.

'Memory', in this project, describes on the one hand elements of explicit, official memory culture (e.g. the remembrance of Gandhi in South Africa); on the other hand, the project wants to reconstruct what John C. Hawley (2008, 4), drawing on James C. Scott, has called "hidden transcripts": implicit, non-official, private and subaltern forms of memory, which, however, can be articulated in literature, photography, film and other media. Such memories have especially come to the fore in interviews we conducted with various groups of people in South Africa, East Africa, China and India as well as in our recent investigation of ‘travelling afrasian objects’ and ‘multidirectional mnemoeconomics’ (see Karugia 2016, in preparation).

Involvierte AFRASO Mitglieder: 

Kontakt: 

AFRASO Publications

Karugia, John Njenga ; 2015 ; “Tazara Memory in Africa’s Contemporary Politics of Dignity” ; (当代非洲政治尊严中的坦赞回忆), International Aid Journal ; 5th 2015 (6th in general) [2015年第5期,总第6期] ; Beijing, 18-25
Helff, Sissy ; 2013 ; Unreliable Truths: Transcultural Homeworlds in Indian Women’s Fiction of the Diaspora. ; Helff, Sissy ; Rodopi. Pb ; Amsterdam/New York
Erll, Astrid ; 2014 ; From District Six to District 9 and Back: The Plurimedial Production of Travelling Schemata ; de Cesari, Chiara & Ann Rigney ; Transnational Memory: Circulation, Articulation, Scales ; de Gruyter ; Berlin/New York ; 29–5
Schulze-Engler, Frank ; 2014 ; Africa’s Asian Options: Indian Ocean Imaginaries in East African Literature ; Beyond the Line: Cultural Constructions of the Southern Oceans ; Michael Mann, Ines Phaf-Rheinberger ; Neofelis ; Berlin ; 159-179

Talks and Lectures

Helff, Sissy ; ‘Deep Memory’ in Indian Ocean Photography ; Tuesday, March 24, 2015 ; Kapstadt
Karugia, John Njenga ; Writing Back to Whom? East African Literature in a Multipolar World, WiSe 2013/14 ; Goethe University Frankfurt
Karugia, John Njenga ; Writers in African Politics, WiSe 2014/15 ; Goethe University Frankfurt
Karugia, John Njenga ; Wissensproduktion in der geteilten transregionalen Forschung ; Friday, December 4, 2015 ; Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
Karugia, John Njenga ; Wissensproduktion in der geteilten transregionalen Forschung ; Friday, December 4, 2015 ; AFRASO, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Frankfurt
Karugia, John Njenga ; Wealth in China’s ‚Colonies‘ in East Africa ; Monday, April 14, 2014 to Friday, April 18, 2014 ; University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
Karugia, John Njenga ; Travelling Afrasian Objects ; Friday, May 6, 2016 ; University of Augsburg
Helff, Sissy ; Transregional Sightlines: Visualising Dialogues between Asia and Africa in Photography ; Wednesday, March 12, 2014 ; Kuala Lumpur
Helff, Sissy ; Transregional Sightlines: Images of Asia in African Photography ; Wednesday, August 7, 2013 ; St. Lucia
Karugia, John Njenga ; Transregional Research in Trans-Areas: Methodological Reflections ; Monday, December 14, 2015 ; Universität Hamburg
Karugia, John Njenga ; Towards a Braver History of the Indian Ocean ; Thursday, November 26, 2015 ; Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Barcelona
Karugia, John Njenga ; The Indian Ocean as Memory Space ; Thursday, November 12, 2015 ; Institut für Poskoloniale & Transkulturelle Studien, Universität Bremen, Bremen
Karugia, John Njenga ; Successes, Challenges and Paradoxes of China-Africa Relations ; Thursday, October 24, 2013 ; Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main
Karugia, John Njenga ; Memory, Migration and Politics in Asia-Africa Relations ; Wednesday, April 2, 2014 ; Jindal School of International Affairs, O.P. Jindal Global University Delhi, New Delhi,
South Africa and China - Politics and Perspective ; Mageza-Barthel, Rirhandu & John Njenga Karugia, SoSe 2015 ; Goethe University Frankfurt
Karugia, John Njenga ; KiswaChin - Sinokiswahili in Kariakoo Chinatown ; Sunday, June 8, 2014 to Monday, June 9, 2014 ; University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany
Karugia, John Njenga ; Indischer Ozean ; Thursday, December 10, 2015 ; Auswärtiges Amt, Berlin
Karugia, John Njenga ; Indian Ocean Migrations and Impacts in the 21st Century: China and India in East Africa ; Friday, April 4, 2014 ; Department of African Studies, Delhi University, New Delhi, India
Erll, Astrid ; Indian Ocean Memories, WiSe 2014/15 ; Goethe University Frankfurt
Karugia, John ; In (Visible) Imperial Indian Ocean Memories ; Thursday, June 25, 2015 to Wednesday, March 30, 2016 ; University of Amsterdam
Karugia, John Njenga ; East Africa, South Africa and the Indian Ocean in a Global Context ; Saturday, June 6, 2015 ; Niederndodeleben, Germany
Karugia, John Njenga ; Discussing China in Tanzania's Parliament ; Friday, January 17, 2014 ; Konfuzius Institut, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Karugia, John Njenga ; Dignity for Self and Others: Insights from Memory Studies ; Saturday, April 25, 2015 ; Prynnsberg Estate, Clocolan, South Africa
Karugia, John Njenga ; Contested Heritage Politics Across the Indian Ocean ; Thursday, January 14, 2016 ; Martin Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Karugia, John Njenga ; Connective Indian Ocean Memories: Towards a Braver Indian Ocean History ; Friday, September 25, 2015 ; Goethe Frankfurt University
Karugia, John Njenga ; Connective Indian Ocean Memories ; Wednesday, March 25, 2015 ; Kapstadt
Karugia, John Njenga, Erll, Astrid & Sissy Helff ; Collective Amnesia, Denial or Disavowal of History? The Indian Ocean Islands of Mauritius and its Colonial Past ; Tuesday, May 19, 2015 ; The Frankfurt Memory Studies Platform, Goethe University Frankfurt
John Njenga Karugia ; Civilizational Dialogues Between Asia and Africa: Asia in East Africa's Parliaments ; Tuesday, March 11, 2014 ; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Karugia, John Njenga ; Chinesische Migration nach Tansania ; Wednesday, February 20, 2013 ; Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum – Kulturen der Welt, Köln
Karugia, John Njenga ; Baohan Street: An African Community in Guangzhou (China) ; Thursday, October 16, 2014 ; Global South Studies Center Cologne, Cultures and Societies in Transition
Karugia, John Njenga ; Asiatische Akteure in Afrika im globalen Kontext ; Saturday, November 23, 2013 to Sunday, November 24, 2013 ; Herbert-Wehner-Bildungswerk, Dresden
Karugia, John Njenga ; African Memories of Visits to China ; Thursday, January 15, 2015 ; Konfuzius Institut, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Karugia, John Njenga ; Afrasian migrations across transregional spaces and places: East Africans and Chinese Migrants ; Thursday, May 15, 2014 to Saturday, May 17, 2014 ; Centre for Interdisciplinary African Studies, Goethe University of Frankfurt and Centre for the Study of Contemporary Africa at the University of Naples “L´Orientale”, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Karugia, John Njenga ; Afrasian Memory Interviews: Complexities in Afrasian Spaces ; Tuesday, May 3, 2016 ; University of Frankfurt
Karugia, John Njenga ; Afrasian Literature, WiSe 2015/16 ; Goethe University Frankfurt
Karugia, John Njenga ; „China in Afrika – Chancen, Herausforderungen, Perspektiven ; Thursday, May 22, 2014 ; Leipzig, Germany