Tuesday, May 8, 2018 at 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Morrill Hall, 404
The speaker will focus on sailors from the Gulf of Kutch in India who traverse the Indian Ocean on wooden sailing vessels known as vahans or dhows. These dhows function as an economy of arbitrage, transporting foodstuffs, electronics, diesel, livestock and cars, going where container ships cannot or will not go. Dhows have recently become sinews of war in Somalia and the Middle East, especially as they are able to service minor ports in times of conflict. Seafarers who work on flexible contracts across this space are therefore accustomed to “taking risks.” Yet while historians and anthropologists have generally thought of risk and protection in financial terms, she argues that risk cannot be thought of solely in economic terms and suggest that a complex web of kinship relations, religious practices, and historical memory and narratives act as protection and comfort for these seafarers as they move across risky and dangerous waters.
Nidhi Mahajan is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California / Santa Cruz