The Role of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean World: An Archaeological View

The Role of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean World: An Archaeological View

Presentation by Krish Seetah, Stanford University.

Thursday, February 28, 2013
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
6275 Bunche Hall - new location
Los Angeles, CA 90095

The archaeology of Mauritius offers a fascinating insight into one of the most influential Diasporas to have occurred in the Indian Ocean. As the test case for the British Empire’s ‘Great Experiment’, the island played a pivotal role in the transition from a slave work force to one based on contract labour. The archaeo-historic context of the island and its role in the wider region forms the main focus of the presentation. Despite the obvious potential, there has been limited study of the islands rich archaeological past; indeed, our project is the first to systematically investigate the archaeology of slavery and indenture. Using specific case studies, I outline how we aim to add insight into the daily lives of slaves and indentured labourers, whilst simultaneously studying the underlying mechanisms and physical outcomes of this most complex of ‘trades’, one that underpinned labour provision during the post-medieval period.

Krish Seetah is a zooarchaeologist, whose focus is primarily on colonisation and colonialism. His earlier research interests are rooted in technologies associated with faunal processing, and manipulation of animal bodies. This has been used to investigate issues of technology, trade and socio-economic attitudes within colonial contexts in the Mediterranean (Venice & Montenegro) and the Baltic (Poland, Latvia & Lithuania).

Building on these varied colonial contexts, in 2008 Professor Seetah initiated the ‘Ecological Imperialism: Colonial Archaeology in Mauritius’ and is now the Director of the ‘Mauritian Archaeology and Cultural Heritage’ (MACH) project, which studies European Imperialism and colonial activity. This project centres on the movement of peoples and material cultures, specifically within the contexts of slavery and Diaspora. The aim of this project is to better understand the transition from slavery to indentured labour following abolition, the extent and diversity of trade in the region and the environmental consequences of intense, monoculture, agriculture. 

Cost : Free and Open to the Public; pay-by-space and all-day parking ($11) available in lot 3.

African Studies Center310-825-3686

Sponsor(s): African Studies Center, Center for Near Eastern Studies, Department of History, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology