Commerce with the Universe: Africa, India, and the Afrasian Imagination

Paperback | June 21, 2016

byGaurav Desai

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Reading the life narratives and literary texts of South Asians writing in and about East Africa, Gaurav Desai builds a surprising, alternative history of Africa's experience with slavery, migration, colonialism, nationalism, and globalization. Consulting Afrasian texts that are literary and nonfictional, political and private, he broadens the scope of African and South Asian scholarship and inspires a more nuanced understanding of the Indian Ocean's fertile routes of exchange.

Desai shows how the Indian Ocean engendered a number of syncretic identities and shaped the medieval trade routes of the Islamicate empire, the early independence movements galvanized in part by Gandhi's southern African experiences, the invention of new ethnic nationalisms, and the rise of plural, multiethnic African nations. Calling attention to lives and literatures long neglected by traditional scholars, Desai introduces rich, interdisciplinary ways of thinking not only about this specific region but also about the very nature of ethnic history and identity. Traveling from the twelfth century to today, he concludes with a look at contemporary Asian populations in East Africa and their struggle to decide how best to participate in the development and modernization of their postcolonial nations without sacrificing their political autonomy.

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Reading the life narratives and literary texts of South Asians writing in and about East Africa, Gaurav Desai builds a surprising, alternative history of Africa's experience with slavery, migration, colonialism, nationalism, and globalization. Consulting Afrasian texts that are literary and nonfictional, political and private, he broa...

Gaurav Desai is professor of English at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is the author of Subject to Colonialism: African Self-Fashioning and the Colonial Library (2001), editor of Teaching the African Novel (2009), and coeditor of Postcolonialisms: An Anthology of Cultural Theory and Criticism (2005).

other books by Gaurav Desai

Subject to Colonialism: African Self-Fashioning and the Colonial Library
Subject to Colonialism: African Self-Fashioning and the...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:June 21, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231164556

ISBN - 13:9780231164559

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Table of Contents

1. Ocean and Narration2. Old World Orders: Amitav Ghosh and the Writing of Nostalgia3. Post-Manichaean Aesthetics: Asian Texts and Lives4. Through Indian Eyes: Travel and the Performance of Ethnicity5. Commerce as Romance: Mehta, Madhvani, Manji6. Lighting a Candle on Mount Kilimanjaro: Partnering with Nyerere7. Anti Anti-Asianism and the Politics of Dissent: M. G. Vassanji's The Gunny SackCoda : Entangled LivesNotesSelected ReferencesIndex

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Commerce with the Universe provides a detailed and engaging analysis of the Asian literary and cultural encounters in and about East Africa.