This international conference has been organized by The Centre for History of the University of Lisbon, the Centre for Indian Studies of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon, and the Macau Scientific and Cultural Centre, Ministry of Education and Science, and includes presentations by experts from various European and Asian universities. It follows a global perspective and aims to look into the various dimensions in which the Indian Ocean has historically played and presently plays the role of a dynamic focal point on the world stage. It has been conceived as the first of a series of conferences on the Indian Ocean to be held in Lisbon and aims at the same time to broadly look into general issues and serve as an introduction to more specialized topics to be discussed in later conferences.
One of the purposes of the conference is try and understand whether the Indian Ocean is a mere saltwater body or can be envisioned as a “region”, a “zone”, a “realm”, such as the “Pacific Realm”, or even a sort of vast Braudelian “Méditerranée” spanning from the Eastern coast of Africa to Southeast Asia and Beyond. It may be useful to understand for instance, if one accepts the definition of Indian Ocean as “realm”, to what extent it is possible to follow up on the idea of the “Asian Mediterranean Sea” introduced by Denis Lombard in the 1990s and still followed among some scholars. Another aspect that this conference aims to explore is the idea of networks of routes and connections that might somehow help visualize this “realm” as a stage upon which multiple different actors with different purposes (economic, political, or other) have historically come and are presently coming into contact.
While this conference is multidisciplinary in approach, it is organized around two panels, one of which focused on historical issues and the other contemporary in approach and concentrated on politics and international relations. There being specificities for each of the panels, it is the purpose of this conference to link up the past and the present and look for continuities and changes.
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