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Look Inside Ocean of Letters

Ocean of Letters
Language and Creolization in an Indian Ocean Diaspora

£16.99

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Part of Critical Perspectives on Empire

  • Date Published: May 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521739573

£ 16.99
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About the Authors
  • Ocean of Letters is a remarkable history of imperialism, language, and creolization in the largest African diaspora of the Indian Ocean in the early modern period. Ranging from Madagascar to the Mascarenes, the Comores, and South Africa, Pier M. Larson sheds new light on the roles of slavery, emancipation, oceanic travel, Christian missions, and colonial linguistics in the making of Malagasy-language literacy in the islands of the western Indian Ocean. He shows how enslaved and free Malagasy together with certain European colonists and missionaries promoted the Malagasy language, literacy projects and letter writing in the multilingual colonial societies of the region between the seventeenth and mid-nineteenth centuries. Addressing current debates in the history of Africa and the African diaspora, slavery, abolition, creolization and the making of modern African literatures, the book crosses thematic as well as geo-imperial boundaries and brings fresh perspectives to Indian Ocean history.

    • The first book-length study of an African diaspora of the Indian Ocean
    • Unique engagement with sources in the native African language of slaves
    • Brings new evidence and fresh perspectives to Indian Ocean history
    Read more

    Awards

    • Winner of the 2010 Wesley–Logan Prize from the American Historical Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Larson summarizes the approaches of current scholarship to the African diaspora in the Indian Ocean. He brings to the fore the complexities of cross-cultural interactions in asymmetric power relationships in the western Indian Ocean during the early modern period.' The American Historical Review

    'Ocean of Letters is an ambitious book, both in the scale of its archival task - covering French, British and Dutch imperialisms in the Indian Ocean region - and in the sophistication of its argument … With its combination of compelling detail and supple theory, Ocean of Letters is an excellent study about language, diaspora, and archive in the Indian Ocean from the Cambridge Critical Perspectives on Empire series.' Research in African Literatures

    '… this is an important and well-written book on a vibrant and ongoing academic debate about creolisation within the Indian Ocean.' Itinerario

    '… a fascinating historical account of the Malagasy people from the mid-seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth century, focusing on how their vernacular languages survived in a context of slavery or forced dispersion, colonization by successive European powers, and Christian mission.' International Bulletin of Missionary Research

    'Ocean of Letters makes the history of this part of the Indian Ocean [the Comoro and Mascarene islands] much more accessible to an English-speaking audience.' Kate Kingsford, African Affairs

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521739573
    • length: 398 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.63kg
    • contains: 18 b/w illus. 5 maps 3 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Departures
    2. Conversation and the catechism
    3. The work of the word
    4. The colonial study
    5. The multilingual street
    6. Renaissance: reading and affiliation
    7. Ocean of letters
    8. Pathways of language and Créolité.

  • Author

    Pier M. Larson, The Johns Hopkins University
    Pier M. Larson is Professor of African History at The Johns Hopkins University, USA. A cultural and intellectual historian with interests in social history, he specializes in early modern Madagascar, the Indian Ocean, slavery, religion, literacy, and the global African diasporas. He is the author of History and Memory in the Age of Enslavement: Becoming Merina in Highland Madagascar, 1770–1822 (2000).

    Awards

    • Winner of the 2010 Wesley–Logan Prize from the American Historical Association

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