This article looks at “routes” and “hubs” in the Indian Ocean world, arguing that using these two concepts within a mobility-oriented perspective will provide an insightful addition, and alternative, to investigations that are guided solely by spatial concepts, such as “hinterland” or “littoral.” The first major part of this article discusses various routes in the history of the Indian Ocean world. It addresses questions such as the competition between various routes, their interconnectedness, their internal structure, deviations from the main routes, and the role of local pilots in showing the way to colonial powers. The second major part looks at the nodal points along such routes, here called “hubs.” It will be argued that these hubs not only enable the movements of things, but also stop them, if only temporarily, thereby often transforming them in meaning, value, and function. Therefore, hubs are also identified as having an internal dimension in addition to an external one. These points will be discussed with reference to one paradigmatic case, namely the island of Mauritius in the southwestern part of Indian Ocean world. The issue of mobility is discussed in greater detail in two further sections. While arguing in favor of mobility-oriented perspectives and methods, it is held that an overinflated use of terms such as circulation or flow may also be misleading.

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