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Research Workshop: The Indian Ocean World: Travel, Migration, and Exchange


Admission requirements

This course is part of the (Res)MA History Programme. It is not accessible for BA students.


This course explores the making of the Indian Ocean World from the perspective of travel and migration. Students will become acquainted with the debates in this sub-field of Indian Ocean Studies and analyze primary sources, in particular travelogues, to understand how people from different regional and class backgrounds, and at different moments in time, defined the Indian Ocean as a space. We will explore the types of relationships and ideologies engendered by permanent and semi-permanent forms of travel and migration to and within the Indian Ocean World.

There will be no entry test for this course.

Course objectives

General learning objectives

The student has acquired:

  1. The ability to independently identify and select sources, using traditional and modern techniques;
  2. The ability to analyse and evaluate a corpus of sources with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;
  3. The ability to independently formulate a clear and well-argued research question, taking into account the theory and method of the field and to reduce this question to accessible and manageable sub-questions;
  4. The ability to independently set up and carry out an original research project that can make a contribution to existing scholarly debates;
  5. The ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline;
  6. The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;
  7. The ability to provide constructive feedback to and formulate criticism of the work of others and the ability to evaluate the value of such criticism and feedback on one’s own work and incorporate it;
  8. (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

The student has acquired:

  1. Thorough knowedge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subtracks as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following;
    -in the specialisation Cities, Migration and Global Interdependence: the manner in which migrations (of people, goods and ideas) between and within states have led to shifts (in cohesion, ethnic composition, policies, imaging, culture, and power relations) in the period 1600-2000, with a focus on (urban) networks (within and across borders);
  2. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological aspects of the specialisation or subspecialisation in question, with a particular focus on the following;
    -in the specialisation Cities, Migration and Global Interdependence: the interdisciplinary approach (application of theories and methods from social sciences), the comparative perspective (diachronic and synchronic) and working with a large variety of primary sources;

Learning objectives, pertaining to this Research Workshop

The student:

  1. will gain knowledge about the secondary literature in the field of Indian Ocean history, with a focus on travel and migration, and debates therein.
  2. will gain knowledge about primary sources available in the field and how to use them to construct an argument.
  3. will be able to distinguish among different types of primary sources, and how to utilize travelogues in particular as sources.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Workshop (compulsory attendance)

This means that students must attend every session of the course. If a student is not able to attend, the student is required to notify the teacher beforehand. The teacher will determine if and how the missed session can be compensated by an additional assignment. If specific restrictions apply to a particular course, the teacher will notify the students at the beginning of the semester. If a student does not comply with the aforementioned requirements, the student will be excluded from the seminar.

Assessment method


  • Written paper (ca. 2.500-3000 words, based on research in primary sources)
    Measured learning objectives: 1-7

  • Class participation
    Measured learning objectives: 9-10

  • Assignment 1 (Oral Presentation and discussion of secondary literature)
    Measured learning objectives: 4-6

  • Assignment 2 (Oral Presentation and discussion of primary source)
    Measured learning objectives: 11-12

  • Assignment 3 (Oral Presentation and discussion of paper topic/thesis)
    Measured learning objectives: 13


  • Written paper: 60%

  • Class participation: 10%

  • Assignment 1: 10%

  • Assignment 2: 10%

  • Assignment 3: 10%

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the written paper must always be sufficient.


Assignments and written papers should be handed in within the deadline as provided in the relevant course outline on Brightspace.


Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructor.

Inspection and feedback

How and when a review of the written paper will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the results, a review of the written paper will have to be organised.

Reading list

  • Nigel Worden, “Writing the Global Indian Ocean,” Journal of Global History 12, 1, March 2017, 145-154
    Nile Green, “The Waves of Heterotopia: Toward a Vernacular Intellectual History of the Indian Ocean,” American Historical Review 123, 3 (June 2018).

  • Sanjay Subramanyam, Explorations in Connected History (chapters)
    Nandini Das and Tim Youngs, eds., *Cambridge History of Travel Writing


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website.


  • For course related questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga.