Advisor: Dr. Laura Fair
Areas of Study: Africa (East), Migration, Gender and sexuality, Indian Ocean, Islamic World, global/transnational history, cultural history, twentieth century history
Languages: Kiswahili, French, Arabic
My current research, Immobility in a Sea of Migration: biographical histories of transnational families in Zanzibar and Oman, ca 1850-2019, retells the history of transnational connections in the Western Indian Ocean from the point of view of women, the poor, and rural actors. Traditionally, this history has been told from the point of view of a small cast of elite men, ranging from Sultans to the wealthy merchant class.
In centering those non-elite actors often excluded from this history, my research makes several needed contributions to scholarship on Arab migration in the Indian Ocean. First, I demonstrate the ways that immobility was central to the lives of individuals living in this transnational community that has generally been understood as fluidly mobile. Second, I make a case for continuity between the pre- and post-revolution periods in Zanzibar history, which radically restructures the timeline of not only the history of Zanzibar, but also of the flow of Arab migration in the Indian Ocean more generally. And third, I take a methodological stand for oral history in research contexts where the archive represents the voices only of the most elite historical actors.
My research in Zanzibar has been supported by Fulbright Hays DDRA, Fulbright IIE, and an endowed award from the MSU History Department.