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Department of Politics and International Studies

The Indian Ocean in World Politics

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Taught in:
Term 2

This course offers an unconventional take on international politics, through a study of connected oceanic spaces in the Indian Ocean. Pronounced the ‘Centre Stage for the Twenty First Century’ (Kaplan, 2009), this region has had a critical role in the emergence of global modernity over centuries. Students of this course will explore multiple aspects of this role whilst also engaging the intellectual significance of studying the ocean as a connected and transnational space. This course is designed to follow up the theoretical issues covered in the compulsory International Theory course, as well as to speak to questions raised in the State and Society modules.

This course is focused on important themes in world politics applied to the region: the character of political authority, legitimacy and hierarchy; disorder, security and violence; political economies, reproductive economies and trade; faith, mobility and diasporic communities; race, caste and class;cosmopolitanisms, antagonisms and solidarities; geopolitics, strategy and alliances. For each theme, students will engage with specific case studies, either historical or contemporary. The course will open by setting up the major conceptual questions guiding the study of oceanic space in world politics and close by looking at future prospects in the region through alternative lenses.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

Knowledge of major historical political forces and dynamics within the Indian Ocean region

  • Understanding of the main conceptual, theoretical and normative questions raised by studying oceanic and transnational spaces in world politics
  • Understanding of the diversity of contemporary political issues affecting the region
  • An advanced ability to critically analyse and interrogate scholarship and policy towards the region and in international politics more broadly
  • An engagement with the challenges of inter-disciplinary study and research

Method of assessment

The assessment is 80% written coursework (one 5,000 word essay), 10% seminar participation, 10% oral presentation