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Products for grant FEL-273250-21

The Konkan: Space, Mobility and Cultural Ecology on an Indian Ocean Coast, 1500-2019
Ananya Chakravarti, Georgetown University

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Unsung Travelers: a history of global mobility from below (Blog Post)
Title: Unsung Travelers: a history of global mobility from below
Author: Ananya Chakravarti
Abstract: This blog explores the life of the enslaved Sidi Asim/Paulo, an African-origin Gujarati merchant who was enslaved off the Swahili coast and sold to a fisherman in Portuguese Goa before escaping, only to be recaptured by the inquisition upon his return to Goa as part of the Mughal ambassador's entourage. Using his life, I argue for the need to attend to a history of subaltern mobility. The legacies of runaway slaves like Sidi Asim/Paulo is apparent across the landscape of the Konkan coast: shrines dedicated to deities called khaprideva attract worshippers along the coast of Maharashtra, Goa, and Karnataka, while kappiri mutappan in Kochi is a legacy of the city’s past as an emporium for African slaves. In these shrines, runaway slaves of African descent are commemorated obliquely, even when popular memory and mainstream historiography are largely blind to their presence in the past. It is landscapes like this, defined by histories of subaltern mobility, that requires historicization. These voyages, often undertaken out of fear and predicated on violence, are a testament to the creative spatial practices of historical actors attempting to escape the strictures that confined them. Following the pathways of these travellers allows us to see the porosity and fragility of political boundaries asserted by elites and to free our geographical imaginations which are too often beholden to such fictions of power.
Date: 09/21/2021
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Blog Title: Collation
Website: Folger Library, Collation Blog website