Belonging Across the Bay of Bengal: Religious Rites, Colonial Migrations, National Rights


Belonging Across the Bay of Bengal discusses themes connecting the regions bordering the Bay of Bengal, mainly covering the period from the mid-19th through the mid-20th centuries – a crucial period of transition from colonialism to independence. Focusing on the notion of 'belonging', the chapters in this collection highlight themes of ethnicity, religion, culture and the emergence of nationalist politics and state policies as they relate to the movement of peoples in the region.

While the Indian Ocean has been of interest to scholars for decades, there has been a notable tilt towards historicizing the Western half of that space, often prioritizing Islamic trade as the key connective glue prior to the rise of Western power and the later emergence of transnational Indian nationalism. Belonging Across the Bay of Bengal enriches this story by drawing attention to Buddhist and migrant connectivities, introducing discussions of Lanka, Burma and the Straits Settlements to establish the historical context of the current refugee crises playing out in these regions.

This is a timely and innovative volume that offers a fresh approach to Indian Ocean history, further enriching our understanding of the current debates over minority rights and refugee problems in the region. It will be of great significance to all students and scholars of Indian Ocean studies as well as historians of modern South and Southeast Asia.