It has been for some time now a truism of sorts that the Middle East is a wider locale than the arid landscapes traditionally identified by the moniker. The notional geographies that scholars have worked with for decades are no longer so set and bound. A number of high-profile thinkers have helped put into motion this paradigm shift, asking how and in which ways histories of the Middle East might be nudged in different directions. Tagliacozzo’s article travels in these same furrows, arguing that Southeast Asia—a place seldom envisioned as part of the Middle East—is also a part of the latter’s story. Although no one is arguing that the monsoon coasts of Southeast Asia are per se part of the Middle East, they are a component part of the history of this region of the world. Tagliacozzo shows how this embrace across the Indian Ocean came about, primarily though the lenses of commerce and religion, through trade and Islam. He examines this evolution, as human beings and the products they carried started to connect these two places across the breadth of the Indian Ocean world. He also looks at how imperial energies unleashed in a later time period (primarily the nineteenth century) brought these two world arenas closer to one another in certain identifiable manners. Finally, Tagliacozzo reflects on what adding Southeast Asia into the story of Islam and the Middle East ultimately means, and what we as an intellectual community might gain from this project.
Southeast Asia’s Middle East: Shifting Geographies of Islam and Trade across the Indian Ocean
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Eric Tagliacozzo; Southeast Asia’s Middle East: Shifting Geographies of Islam and Trade across the Indian Ocean. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 December 2014; 34 (3): 565–573. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-2826121
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