Prita Meier; Unmoored: On Oceanic Objects in Coastal Eastern Africa, circa 1700–1900. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 August 2017; 37 (2): 355–367. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201x-4132953
This article examines what happens to objects once they stop being mobile and come to rest on specific bodies and in specific buildings. The material landscape of Indian Ocean port cities, including their mosques, merchant mansions, and even the houses of people who are not powerful traders, is not just the backdrop for diaspora and migration, for trade networks and imperial formations. Rather, this landscape actively creates tactile and embodied experiences of these phenomena. Monsoons, long-distance commerce, and even faraway places are not just symbolic imaginaries but very much the physical matter of life on the Swahili coast.