Transregional Collaborative Research Grants


The overarching goal for this collaborative project is to build a long-term historical understanding of agroecological change in the small tropical island complexes of the Indian Ocean World based on integrating data and narratives from physical and natural sciences, archives, folklore, food cultures, festive traditions, and health practices. The project focuses on two small tropical island complexes: the Quirimbas- Ilha Moçambique- Comoros islands in the Southwest Indian Ocean maritime sphere and the Andaman-Nicobar (AN) islands in the Bay of Bengal maritime sphere. We aim to create an Open Access online resource that provides composite understanding of the agroecological changes that have occurred on these small tropical island complexes during different phases of the Holocene.

Principal Investigators

Haripriya Rangan

Principal Fellow and Associate Professor, School of Geography, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Melbourne, Australia

Haripriya Rangan began her academic life as a student of architecture and wandered through urban planning and regional development to discover her preoccupation with biocultural geography, political ecology and the environmental histories of the Indian Ocean world. She has done research on forestry and regional development in the Indian Himalayas, the economic geography of the medicinal plant trade in South Africa, and on the political ecology of plant transfers around the Indian Ocean, with particular focus on exchanges between southern and eastern Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and northern Australia. The latter work has involved collaborations with researchers from natural, social and historical sciences, and indigenous community organisations in each of these regions. These collaborations have enabled her to see the beauty and richness of the Indian Ocean as an old cosmopolitan and creolised world of movements, connections, and interactions. She is principal fellow and associate professor at the School of Geography, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Melbourne, Australia.

Suresh Babu

Associate Professor and Dean, School of Human Ecology at Ambedkar University, Delhi

I am a human ecologist with interests in how communities have modified traditional ways of managing natural resources to maintain resilience in the context of climatic, socio-economic and technological change. My research has focused on two regions of India: the TransHimalayan regions bordering Tibet and China, and the Andaman Nicobar Archipelago. The Andaman Nicobar Archipelago has been a region of persistent academic interest for me. My doctoral research focused on the ecology of the rainforests and people of the Great Nicobar Island (GNI). Between 1999 and 2008, I travelled extensively in the Nicobar archipelago, recording the subtle variations in the horticultural practices as well as seafaring and boat-building customs. I continue to sustain my research interests and networks in the Nicobar islands through my graduate students. One of my doctoral students has recently completed a thesis on the “Ecological history, settlement and trade in Great Nicobar Island,” and the second doctoral student is currently working on the Nicobarese traditional horticultural systems and grassland ecologies in the Central Nicobar islands. This collaborative project will provide a more detailed understanding of the agroecological practices of Andaman & Nicobar islands which share similarities with larger Austronesian coastal and seafaring societies. Among other ideas, this research would focus on ‘canoe’ plants and animals that can be moved between islands for cultivation, and the clan-based Tuhet plantation systems that are currently facing pressure. The project will also allow us to expand the Nicobar archives in the Centre for Community Knowledge located at my university.

Mussa Raja

Lecturer and Research Assistant, Eduardo Mondlane University

Mussa Raja is a lecturer and researcher assistant in the Eduardo Mondlane University where he has been a faculty member since 2010. Raja completed his PhD and MA in archaeology at University of Algarve and his undergraduate studies in history at Eduardo Mondlane University. He has been lecturing on archeology and African prehistory for 12 years and has extensive experience in archaeological research dating back to 2005. His research areas of interest include geoarcheology; archaeological site and record formation; the paleoenvironment and climate change; archaeological material analysis (Lithics); the Stone Age; human settlement patterns; epistemology and history of archeology; and contract archeology. He has published a dozen articles related to archeology and paleoenvironments, and has participated in international conferences related to archaeology and human evolution. Raja has extensive experience in collaboration with cross-border scientific research projects, having carried out in Portugal (ICArEHB - Interdisciplinary Center for Archaeology and Evolution of Human Behaviour). He is also a senior transdisciplinary researcher for the project in Sudan North - "DIASPORA: First human migrations and the Valley of the Nile: the Kerma region during the Middle Stone Age" and with InMoz Project - Quaternary Environmental Change in Inhambane, south-east Mozambique, and its role in human evolution, both funded by the Foundation for Science (FCT). Raja is currently the PI of the STICAH Project (Long-term Agroecological Histories of Small Tropical Island Complexes of the Indian Ocean World) funded by the Social Science Research Council's Transregional Collaboratory. This project offers a great potential for Raja to combine this practical experience with his interdisciplinary research expertise in palaeoenvironmental and archaeological analysis. Having worked most of his time as a researcher in the interior regions of Mozambique, he finds in this project an opportunity to contribute to the understanding of the coastal ecosystem, especially in the Indian Islands, in Northern Mozambique. The Indian Islands holds great potential for providing a broader temporal context for climate, biodiversity and ecosystem change in the southern African region.