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Author ORCID Identifier


Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Asha Nadkarni

Second Advisor

Johan Mathew

Third Advisor

Rachel Mordecai

Subject Categories

Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies


“Afrasian Imaginaries” examines twentieth and twenty-first century cultural texts from African and Asian Indian Ocean communities that offer counter narratives to dominant Eurocentric ones. Focusing on representations of historical and contemporary Afro-Asian multilateral movements across the ocean, it recasts narratives of global capitalism that foreground systems of trade and exchange that refuse to assimilate easily into the prevailing notion that EuroAmerican modernity created and imposed capitalism upon the formerly colonized world. Drawing on the ocean’s multi-layered histories attunes us to resources that interrupt and subvert the disciplinary mechanisms of control, surveillance, and exploitation that characterize global capitalisms. Chapter 1 focuses on Shailja Patel’s Migritude to review the promises of postcoloniality and develop a feminist materialist methodology that elucidates the silences and erasures of the colonial archive and the postcolonial state. The second chapter pairs Abdulrazak Gurnah’s By the Sea and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s Wizard of the Crow to analyze genealogies of capitalism through cornerstones of Indian Ocean migrations: the historic long-distance commodities trade and the contemporary movement of students and young professionals. Chapter 3 considers migration from rural to urban areas to deconstruct narratives of Asia ‘Rising’ in Mohsin Hamid’s How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia and Tash Aw’s Five Star Billionaire. The fourth chapter juxtaposes narratives of debt bondage in East Africa (Gurnah’s Paradise) and slavery in Western Asia (Benyamin’s Goat Days) to examine how technologies of unfreedom pervade in circuits of global capitalism and labor migrations. Chapter 5 turns to Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy to investigate resonances of nineteenth century capitalisms in its contemporary permutations, while arguing for connected histories of the Indian and Atlantic Ocean Worlds. The epilogue meditates on South African student activist movements to understand better how our institutions of knowledge remain complicit in perpetuating coloniality. Together, these chapters craft relational analyses of global capitalisms, circumventing center-periphery approaches to the Global South. Afrasian Imaginaries offers an analytic for understanding the intersections of postcolonial statecraft in south-south contexts, the circulation of ideologies of freedom, and the transfer of technologies of discipline and surveillance in labor zones across the Indian Ocean.


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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License