On December 26, 2004, giant tsunami waves destroyed communities around the Indian Ocean, from Indonesia to Kenya. Beyond the horrific death toll, this wall of water brought a telling reminder of the interconnectedness of the many countries on the ocean rim, and the insignificance of national boundaries. A Hundred Horizons takes us to these shores, in a brilliant reinterpretation of how culture developed and history was made at the height of the British raj.
Between 1850 and 1950, the Indian Ocean teemed with people, commodities, and ideas: pilgrims and armies, commerce and labor, the politics of Mahatma Gandhi and the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore were all linked in surprising ways. Sugata Bose finds in these intricate social and economic webs evidence of the interdependence of the peoples of the lands beyond the horizon, from the Middle East to East Africa to Southeast Asia.
In following this narrative, we discover that our usual ways of looking at history--through the lens of nationalism or globalization--are not adequate. The national ideal did not simply give way to inevitable globalization in the late twentieth century, as is often supposed; Bose reveals instead the vital importance of an intermediate historical space, where interregional geographic entities like the Indian Ocean rim foster nationalist identities and goals yet simultaneously facilitate interaction among communities.
A Hundred Horizons merges statistics and myth, history and poetry, in a remarkable reconstruction of how a region's culture, economy, politics, and imagination are woven together in time and place.
Sugata Bose has brought together social, cultural and political history to create a superb study of the peoples of the Indian Ocean littoral during the age of European imperialism and anti-colonial nationalism. This is a major contribution to the history of India, Southeast and West Asia and it provides a critical plane of analysis between histories of 'globalization' and histories of regions.
Sugata Bose has opened up new horizons in oceanic history that provide contemporary globalization with rich cultural genealogies and social geographies. This is interdisciplinary and interregional history at its best: the great global themes of migration, trade networks, and political sovereignty are explored with a scholar's scrutiny and a storyteller's eye. This is a work of impeccable research and considerable imaginative reach.
Sugata Bose presents a lyrical, subtly contentious blend of poetry, political economy, and accounts of pilgrims, capitalists, writers, workers, imperialists, soldiers, scholars, and revolutionaries, to analyze the modern Indian Ocean as an ever-changing, transregional space and to formulate a judicious historical critique of territorial nationalism, US empire, and popular ideas about globalization.
Sugata Bose has given us an excellent historical study, which is both interesting in itself (even for non-historians) and full of contemporary relevance for understanding an important ancestry of present-day globalization.
Through the voyages and voices of sea-going South Asians in modern times, A Hundred Horizons offers a new perspective on the major upheavals of the nineteenth and twentieth century. Sugata Bose eloquently recovers the Indian Ocean as an important space for both anti-colonial action and universalist aspiration.
Bose focuses on the 18th and 19th centuries, following dhows and steamships linking the subaltern and the elite: we meet indentured labourers, itinerant traders, devout pilgrims, soldiers fighting imperial wars, but we also glimpse Ghandi and Tagore...Bose rejects linear narrative, letting his stories follow their path. This fluidity makes the book unique.
A bold, timely, at times overambitious book, Bose seeks to carry the ocean's history firmly into the nineteenth and early twentieth century...It is thought-provoking, and it creatively suggests how many more histories of the Indian Ocean still remain to be written.
This book transcends maritime history and makes a much wider contribution to historical practice...[and] deserves a very wide readership...It has relevance for Indian Ocean studies certainly in its interpretation of the last two centuries. However, it has a wider significance, for it critiques the fashionable notion of globalization, and shows how a concentration on a less ambitious yet still all-encompassing unit, that is an interregional area such as the Indian Ocean, may often be a more revealing unit to analyse.
A Hundred Horizons [is] a profoundly hopeful book, not only in its message but also in the further diverse histories of the Indian Ocean world that it seeks to provoke.
A Hundred Horizons is an empirically rich work based on a careful and creative use of primary sources. The author couches his arguments in social theory, but does so in a graciously understated way. Heavy theorizing never muddles the narrative, and the writing remains crisp and accessible. In this regard, Bose is perhaps singularly successful: It is difficult to imagine another work that could have garnered comparable back-cover praise from such a diverse array of writers as Amartya Sen, Christopher Bayly, and Homi Bhabha.
- 352 pages
- 5-3/16 x 7-15/16 inches
- Harvard University Press
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