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This chapter frames empires in the Indian Ocean from the rise of Srivijaya’s maritime empire in the first millennium of the common era through European imperialism of the early modern period and up to postcolonial challenges of regional cooperation and big power ambitions today. More broadly, colonial occupation, settlement, and exploitation across the Indian Ocean helps reveal both the reach and the limits of empire, and the Indian Ocean lends itself to the study of comparative empires. This chapter also examines anticolonial nationalism, decolonization, and the new set of contingent, interlinked histories like the Bandung Conference or the Belt and Road Initiative in the region that emerged in empire’s wake.

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