2017 Annual Conference

「 Ports and Port Cities in Indian Ocean Connections 」

August 21 - 23, 2017



Center for Global Asia


2017 Annual Conference

「 Ports and Port Cities in Indian Ocean Connections 」

August 21 - 23, 2017


The inter-regional arena of the Indian Ocean has emerged as an important field of research in several different disciplines. While the case for integration had been strongly suggested by archaeological and historical scholarship since the early twentieth century, comparisons, connections, and contentions across the Indian Ocean in the colonial and contemporary periods have now featured prominently in the works of anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists, and economists. With the aim to advance this multidisciplinary research on the Indian Ocean, the annual conference of the Center for Global Asia in 2017 focuses on the study of ports and port cities as important sites for connections across the maritime space and with the relevant hinterland areas.

The study of seaport environments provides fertile ground for collaborative endeavor among different disciplines. Travels on the monsoon among countless connected ports around the Indian Ocean and western Pacific formed spaces of mobility connecting East Asia with Southeast, South and West Asia, from ancient times. Seaborne mobility by migrants, merchants, warriors, and cultural activists shaped all of Asia for many centuries before it brought Europeans and launched global modernity. Subsequently, modern industrial infrastructure -- railways, steamships, and deep sea ports -- privileged strategic coastal cities in a world of empires, and each new technology increased their prominence in the world of nations, making select port cities airline hubs and financial capitals.

The ports of the Indian Ocean thus inhabit environments at many levels of spatio-temporal scale: their natural and social ecologies are local; the archaeological remains provide evidence for maritime connections over long-distances, they are hubs for coastal regions of development; they are transcontinental innovators in the arts, architecture, cuisine, and technology, and laboratories for urban planning, and conduits of mobility. They also house vast populations and contain generations of invested wealth facing stormy winds and seas of global climate change. The panels at this three-day conference will address several of these topics and consider new ways to conceptualize the historical and contemporary connections across the Indian Ocean world.  



New York University, USA

New York University, USA

O.P. Jindal Global University, India

National University of Singapore, Singapore

Indian Ocean World Center, McGill University, Canada

Chinese University of Hong Kong, China

The Academy of Korean Studies, South Korea

New York University, Shanghai

New York University, Shanghai

Duke Kunshan University, China

University of Calcutta, India

New York University, Shanghai

New York University, USA

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

New York University, USA

Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore

Ehwa Womans University, South Korea

Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore

Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Germany

Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, China

New York University, USA

Independent Scholar

Independent Curator

New York University, Shanghai

Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany

New York University, Shanghai

New York University, USA

Chinese University of Hong Kong, China

New York University, Abu Dhabi

Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore

Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany

Chinese University of Hong Kong, China

Fudan University, China


21 August, 2017

  • 8:30-8:40 Welcome Remarks
    Jeffrey S. Lehman | Vice Chancellor, NYU Shanghai
  • 8:40-8:50 Conference Overview and Agenda
    Tansen Sen | Director, Center for Global Asia, NYU Shanghai

Chair: Burkhard Schnepel | Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany

11:20-11:40   Ismail Fajrie Alatas | New York University, USA

Port Cities as Sites of Islamic Learning: Hadrami Scholars in the Early Nineteenth-century Singapore and Surabaya

11:40-12:00   Hsueh-Man Shen | New York University,  USA

Art, Space, and Mobility in Premodern Ningbo

12:00-12:20   Krishnendu Ray | New York University, USA

Taste, Territoriality and Transnationalism

12:20-12:40   David Ludden | New York University, USA

Cowry Country and the Inland Port of Sylhet

12:40- 13:20   DISCUSSION

Chair: Duane Corpis | New York University, Shanghai

14:50-15:10   Mark Swislocki | New York University, Abu Dhabi

To Boldly Go Where Many Have Gone Before: Port Cities and Routes to Yunnan in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

15:10-15:30   Zvi Ben-DorNew York University, USA

Why did Matteo Ricci Lie about the Muslims of Canton and Why does it Matter? 

15:30-15:50   Prita Meier | New York University, USA

Oceanic Architecture: Mobility and Territoriality on the Swahili Coast

15:50-16:30   DISCUSSION

17:30-19:00  Keynote Address

Ports in the Indian Ocean World Global Economy over the Longue Durée

Gwyn Campbell | Indian Ocean World Center, McGill University, Canada

22 August, 2017

Chair: David LuddenNew York University, USA

9:00-9:20   Burkhard Schnepel Martin-Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg, Germany

The Inner Life of Maritime Hubs: The Mauritian Case

9:20-9:40   Mareike PampusMax Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany

Middlemen in Colonial Ports: The Kapitan Cina of Penang

9:40-10:00   Boris WilleMartin-Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg, Germany

Trans-infrastructure and the Spatiality of Political Protest in the Maldivian Hub-city Malé

10:00-10:40   DISCUSSION

23 August, 2017

Chair: Zhang Ke | Fudan University, China

9:00-9:20   Pan Weilin | Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, China

Goods of the Beautiful Imperialist: Consuming American Surplus in Postwar Shanghai

9:20-09:40   Lena Scheen | New York University, Shanghai

Tales of Treaty Port Shanghai: The Strategic Use of Historical Narratives in Protests Against Demolition

09:40-10:00   Andrew Field | Duke Kunshan University, China

Pacific Jazz Diasporas: Asian Port Cities and the Spread of American Pop Music, 1920-1945

10:00-10:30   DISCUSSION

Chair: Mark SwislockiNew York University, Abu Dhabi

10:50-11:10   Simon Shen | Chinese University of Hong Kong

The Influence of “Colonial Legacy” and Post-colonial Motherlands in Port Cities Development – Goa and Hong Kong as Case Study

11:10-11:30   Kaho Yu | Chinese University of Hong Kong

Energy Port Cities in OBOR: A Key Investment Priority for Interconnection

11:30-11:50   Wilson Chan | Chinese University of Hong Kong

Making Use of the Port Metropolis – The Renew European Port Diplomacy and the Role of Hong Kong in Sino-European Relations

11:50-12:10   Leksa Lee | New York University, Shanghai

Immigrant Investors in the Forbidden Sydney: Chinese and Australian Politics in the Design of a New Theme Park

12:10-12:50   DISCUSSION

14:00-15:30   Roundtable: The Study of Indian Ocean Ports and Port Cities

Chairs: David Ludden, Burkhard Schnepel, Tansen Sen

Keynote Address.


Professor Gwyn Campbell

Indian Ocean World Center, McGill University, Canada

Date: Monday, Aug, 21

Time: 5:30 - 7:00 pm

In the keynote lecture, Professor Campbell will present the different structures and functions of ports in the Indian Ocean world (IOW) in the context of the rise and development of the IOW global economy from about 300 BCE to the present day. He will examine the physical, geographical and environmental requirements of a port, and how ports evolved, changed and transformed over time catering to intra-IOW regional maritime exchange, trans-IOW maritime exchange, and exchange between the maritime and continental spheres of the IOW. Professor Campbell's lecture includes investigation of the relationship between ships, commodities and ports, and the European impact on IOW ports from circa 1500.


NYU SHANGHAI | Copyright © 2017 NYU Shanghai. All rights reserved.


NYU SHANGHAI | Copyright © 2017 NYU Shanghai. All rights reserved.