The Indian Ocean World Podcast

The Indian Ocean World Podcast seeks to educate and inform its listeners on topics concerning the relationship between humans and the environment throughout the history of the Indian Ocean World. Based out of the Indian Ocean World Centre, a research centre affiliated with McGill University’s Department of History and Classical Studies, under the direction of Dr. Gwyn Campbell, the Indian Ocean World Podcast is part of the Appraising Risk Partnership, an international collaboration of scholars and researchers dedicated to exploring the critical role of climatic crises in the past and future of the Indian Ocean World. With generous support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the partnership seeks to create a comprehensive spatial and temporal database of human-environment interaction and interdependence during periods of climatic change.

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Episodes

Wednesday Jul 28, 2021

In this podcast, Dr Chandni Singh (Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Bangalore, India) and Prof. Roger Few (University of East Anglia) discuss the different meanings of recovery from disasters and highlight how disasters are caused as much by physical hazards as they are socially generated. Using case studies from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Singh and Few argue that long-term recovery from disasters should focus not only on the measurable, tangible impact (roads, buildings), but also on rebuilding the well-being of communities. Differential access to resources and assets - e.g., loans to rebuild a house, or collateral - meaning rebuilding and recovery have contrasting connotations for affected communities. Media reports too shape the broader understandings of the impact of disasters. While infrastructural recovery is more visible in the recovery policies of Tamil Nadu that has a long history of disasters, psychosocial recovery of people is harder to achieve - as people displaced by a tsunami and rehabilitated to flood-prone areas in Chennai will find it difficult to grow out of stress induced by climatic anomalies. As social scientists and planners, Singh and Few recommend that disaster management, especially for coastal cities like Chennai in India, should be simply not reactive. Instead, a more proactive approach that a) relies upon preserving the wetlands which can absorb a lot of damage caused by floods and cyclones; b) is more attentive towards vulnerability across temporal scales and social differentiation; and, c) is more democratic by including more of people's voices in what recovery means is a better answer to reimagining recovery from disasters. In so doing, Chandni Singh and Roger Few tell us about a relatively lesser-known aspect of human-environment interaction in the Indian Ocean World. This podcast was produced with the help of Renée Manderville (Project Manager, IOWC), Archisman Chaudhuri and Philip Gooding (both postdoctoral fellows, IOWC, McGill).

Wednesday Jul 21, 2021

The IOWC podcast team interviews Dr. Lisa Schipper (University of Oxford) an Environmental Social Science Research Fellow at the Environmental Change Institute (ECI). Dr. Schipper’s research explores the interlinkages between climate change and human development, as she seeks to address the question of whether fair and just development is possible in a changing climate. Our discussion covers Dr. Schipper’s exploration of vulnerabilities to climate change that exist in communities in the developing world. She argues that socio-cultural dimensions of vulnerability –such as gender, culture, religion, etc. – relate to structural inequalities of power, justice and equity; ultimately leading to mosaics of different levels of climate change vulnerability within each stand-alone community. Dr. Schipper delves into how the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic, social, and political impacts have increased vulnerabilities throughout the developing world, as well as how downfalls of short-term climate change adaptation strategies, and maladaptation to climate change, have only emphasized existing vulnerabilities within specific communities. Moreover, as a current coordinating lead author of Chapter 18 of the Working Group 2 Contribution to the 6th assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Dr. Schipper delves into the problematic attitude of prioritizing scientific and quantitative data over qualitative data of the human experience in climate change reporting. She warns of the simplification and misunderstandings that are frequently engendered by focusing solely on the numeric values of climate change instead of truly fleshing out the complexities that exist among human beings experiencing vulnerability to climate change. Finally, Dr. Schipper touches on the effects of the frequent exclusion of female voices and voices from the global south, particularly in African countries, from the academic echo chamber. She argues that this form of gatekeeping excludes different perspectives, and perhaps solutions, to the rapidly changing climate. This podcast was produced with the help of Renée Manderville (Project Manager, IOWC), Archisman Chaudhuri and Philip Gooding (both postdoctoral fellows, IOWC, McGill).  

Monday Jul 12, 2021

Professor Jakobina Arch (Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington) discusses her research into coastal shipping of Tokugawa Japan (17th century -19th century), and accounts of shipwrecks' survivors as insights on the religious world of sailors. Unraveling how Western and Meiji sources have spoken disparagingly of the designs of the 'bezaisen' or coastal ships of the Tokugawa period, Arch proffers compelling evidence to point out the construction of the 'bezaisen' stemmed from specific environmental exigencies -- they were designed to easily navigate the shallow waters near the coast of Japan. Far from being an unchanging maritime vessel, Arch argues the 'bezaisen' underwent significant innovations during the Tokugawa period, responding to market forces and adapting to better understandings of the coastal environment of Japan. Delving into surviving oral narratives of sailors cast away by shipwrecks, Arch also highlights how the religious world of Japanese sailors caught in storms and/or shipwrecks drew upon a medley of Buddhist and Shinto religious practices to interact with the oceanic and terrestrial environments of Japan. She concludes that accounts of shipwrecks' survivors also form an alternative archive to researching weather and climatic patterns around the Sea of Japan in the early modern period. This podcast was produced with the help of Renée Manderville (Project Manager, IOWC), Archisman Chaudhuri and Philip Gooding (both postdoctoral fellows, IOWC, McGill).

Wednesday May 26, 2021

In this podcast, assistant professor Alexandra Kelly (University of Wyoming) discusses her Spring 2021 publication of Consuming Ivory: Mercantile Legacies of East Africa and New England (Culture, Place, and Nature). Throughout the podcast, Dr. Kelly delves into the complex global legacies of the historical ivory trade. From elephant conservation efforts to the cultural heritage industries in New England and East Africa, her study reveals the ongoing global repercussions of the ivory craze and will be of interest to anthropologists, archaeologists, historians, and conservationists. This podcast was produced with the help of Renée Manderville (Project Manager, IOWC), Archisman Chaudhuri and Philip Gooding (both postdoctoral fellows, IOWC, McGill).  

Tuesday Apr 06, 2021

Dr. Emily Brownell (University of Edinburgh) discusses with Dr. Philip Gooding (IOWC) her recently-published book, Gone to Ground: A history of environment and infrastructure in Dar es Salaam (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020). Dr. Brownell’s book breaks new ground in urban environmental history, discussing how Dar es Salaam’s urban inhabitants oriented themselves to the city’s rural peripheries to literally ‘build’ the urban environment in the 1970s and early 1980s. In so doing, she puts into conversation the everyday experiences of commuters, farmers, and factory workers with concerns about broader structures, including climate change, the 1970s oil crisis, and international conservationism. In this discussion, Dr. Brownell also touches on themes of gender and the idea of ‘crisis’ in Africanist scholarly writing, and she discusses aspects of her forthcoming project: Stories from the Substrate, which aims to narrate East African history from the soil through a variety of case studies of how people, animals, and plants have made and remade the region in the last century. This podcast was produced with the help of Renée Manderville (Project Manager, IOWC), Archisman Chaudhuri and Philip Gooding (both postdoctoral fellows, IOWC, McGill).

Thursday Mar 11, 2021

In our latest episode of the Indian Ocean World Podcast, Prof. Annu Jalais, an anthropologist and an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore, talks about the Sundarbans, the largest delta in the world that sprawls across India and Bangladesh along the Bay of Bengal. The Sundarbans supports a unique biodiverse environment of mangroves, tigers, crocodiles, snakes, and humans. Prof. Jalais tells us how she developed an interest in the region as a high school student; why it's imperative for any researcher to understand the forests and its tigers before writing historical and anthropological studies of the Sundarbans; and how the relationship between humans and nonhumans, especially tigers, have highlighted the narratives of development and politics around it in the Sundarbans. Prof. Jalais also discusses a serious impact of climate change in the Sundarbans: disaster fatigue resulting from ever shifting river embankments that change the contours of forested and inhabited lands, regular cyclones, and close encounters with nonhumans (tigers, crocodiles, and snakes) that often have a telling effect on the mental health of the inhabitants of the Sundarbans. Links: Published work: https://nus.academia.edu/AnnuJalais Bio page: https://profile.nus.edu.sg/fass/sasja/ "Southern Collective" website on the northern Indian Ocean: https://www.thesoutherncollective.org/   This podcast was produced with the help of Renée Manderville (Project Manager, IOWC), Archisman Chaudhuri and Philip Gooding (both postdoctoral fellows, IOWC, McGill).

Thursday Mar 11, 2021

In this podcast, the IOWC interviews Professor Jenny Goldstein of Cornell University on her research into Indonesia's peatlands. Her interview offers a discussion of her unique journey from architecture to geography, and an in-depth explanation of how the Indonesian peatlands became her subject of study. She further explores the value of so-called degraded lands from a biodiversity and regenerative standpoint, exploring diverse techniques of rice growth in Peatland environments. Moreover, Professor Goldstein offers a nuanced understanding of how the development of oil palm plantations on Indonesia's peat lands has had multiple effects, including production of divergent scientific knowledge on whether oil palm plantations across Indonesia's peat lands lead to more carbon emissions or not, how these debates shape legislations concerning agriculture and forests in Indonesia, and what could be the climatic impact of such policies eventually. Relevant Links: University bio: https://cals.cornell.edu/jenny-elaine-goldstein   Online piece about the Mega Rice Project: http://www.environmentandsociety.org/arcadia/carbon-bomb-indonesias-failed-mega-rice-project   Links to relevant publications: https://doi.org/10.1111/anti.12576 https://doi.org/10.1111/sjtg.12319 https://doi.org/10.1177/0308518X15599787   This podcast was produced with the help of Renée Manderville (Project Manager, IOWC), Archisman Chaudhuri and Philip Gooding (both postdoctoral fellows, IOWC, McGill).

Thursday Feb 18, 2021

Professor Rosabelle Boswell (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University) discusses with Philip Gooding (IOWC) her recent appointment as the South African Research Chair in Ocean cultures and heritage. This is a new and exciting position designed to contribute to the sustainability of the ocean and to build partnerships with stakeholders. Prof. Boswell discusses her aims for the position, its interdisciplinary characteristics, the challenges therein, and how her past and ongoing research engages with the themes of ocean cultures and heritages. This podcast was produced with the help of Renée Manderville (Project Manager, IOWC), Archisman Chaudhuri and Philip Gooding (both postdoctoral fellows, IOWC, McGill).

Wednesday Feb 03, 2021

To start off the second season of the Indian Ocean World Podcast, we had the pleasure of interviewing Mustafa Emre Günaydı, a PhD student at Iowa State University, and research assistant working on the IOWC's Appraising Risk Partnership. In our podcast, Günaydi presents his ongoing research into the environmental history of the Ottoman Empire, analyzing the effects of the floods, epidemic, and locust invasion that occurred in Baghdad in 1831 within the context of wider geopolitical developments. He further discusses the responses to both the human and natural challenges that accompanied such disasters, and how leadership within the Ottoman Empire and Baghdad sought to rectify the damages. For more on Mustafa’s work, see his Iowa State profile: https://history.iastate.edu/directory/mustafa-emre-gunaydi/ This podcast was produced with the help of Renée Manderville (Project Manager, IOWC), Archisman Chaudhuri and Philip Gooding (both postdoctoral fellows, IOWC, McGill).

Wednesday Jan 27, 2021

Gwyn Campbell, founding director of the IOWC, discusses with Philip Gooding, a postdoctoral fellow at the same institution, his forthcoming book, The Travels of Robert Lyall, 1789-1831: Scottish surgeon, naturalist and British agent to the court of Madagascar, which will be published with Palgrave in early 2021: https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783030516475 The discussion takes the listener through Scotland, London, Russia, and Madagascar. It explores several themes in IOW history, including imperialism, slavery, missionaries, indigenous institutions and beliefs, and the latter’s political, cultural, and social encounters with European empires and ideologies. This podcast was produced with the help of Renée Manderville (Project Manager, IOWC), Archisman Chaudhuri and Philip Gooding (both postdoctoral fellows, IOWC, McGill).

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Indian Ocean World Centre

The Indian Ocean World Centre (IOWC) is a research centre at McGill University studying the history, economy, and cultures of the lands and peoples of the Indian Ocean world – from China to Southeast and South Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

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