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On December 6–7, a planning workshop of the Transregional Collaboratory on the Indian Ocean took place in Beirut, Lebanon, hosted by our partners at the Arab Council for the Social Sciences. The workshop brought together eight regional experts representing institutions across Africa, Asia, the US, and the UK, and the disciplines of history, economics, anthropology, sociology, geography, and political science. Discussions were further informed by generous written contributions from scholars who could not be in attendance.

Over the course of the two-day meeting, the group reflected on the potential of the Collaboratory to catalyze innovative social research in the region and to encourage models of effective collaborative research. Among the key issues raised were the evolving intellectual project of Indian Ocean studies as well as the benefits and limitations of using the lens of climate change and other environmental issues in shaping new knowledge about this historically rich region. For instance, how might research into water scarcity inform our understanding of migration and conflict? What insights could an emphasis on coastal communities and livelihoods bring to studies of governance and infrastructure?

Participants also suggested that research engage previously understudied subregions within the Indian Ocean world, including the Arab Gulf and coastal East Africa, and reflect on the region’s connectedness to other oceans. Participants also discussed the practicalities of effective collaborative research, including the need for clearer ethical standards and principles regarding both interregional research collaboration and knowledge production in and about the Global South. Central concerns included the problem of translating ethical principles into practical models of collaboration, and addressing ethics beyond the research planning and funding phases to include the dissemination of research and its impact on research subjects.

Drawing on the recommendations emerging from this meeting, program staff have developed the Collaboratory’s first call for funding applications for Transregional Planning Grants. Applications are due May 8, 2020.

Meeting Participants

Selina Ho, National University of Singapore
Hafeez Jamali, Government of Balochistan
Godwin Murunga, CODESRIA
Rohit Negi, Ambedkar University, Delhi
Ravi Palat, Binghamton University
Wilmar Salim, Bandung Institute of Technology
Mathew Senga, University of Dar es Salaam
Seteney Shami, Arab Council for the Social Sciences
Ala’a Shehabi, University College London

Other Contributors

Jatin Dua, University of Michigan
Devleena Ghosh, University of Technology, Sydney
Pamila Gupta, University of the Witwatersrand
Isabel Hofmeyr, University of the Witwatersrand/New York University
Rita Padawangi, National University of Singapore
Alexis Wick, Koç University