Muslim Cultures in the Indian Ocean
Built around the Mediterranean Sea, the study of Muslim Cultures was based on the continuity between the Late Antiquity, the Roman World and the rise of Islam. Just like the Mediterranean - so well studied by Fernand Braudel - the Indian Ocean is a rich contact zone that is central to the understanding of cultural diversity in this vast region.
Our research programme is the reconnaissance of the Indian Ocean, not as a periphery but as a centre for the study of Muslim cultures. Cultural encounters across the Indian Ocean through the centuries have given rise to cities, ports and civilisations, which, while remaining distinctive, also exhibit layers of shared knowledge. Cultural contacts, exchanges and networks were facilitated by the sea as a link between these diverse worlds such as Asia, India, Arabia and Africa. Based on the AKDN network in the Indian Ocean, our research programme will increase the actions of the AKU in Pakistan and East Africa by creating a unity around the notion of Indian Ocean cultures.
Islamic archaeology field school in Lahore, December 2019.
Our International Research programme develops and builds partnerships locally and internationally with many national organisations, NGO’s and scientific partners such as: Catholic University of Portugal, Research Centre Indian Ocean, Muscat, Google-Arts & Culture; Tanzanian Antiquities; World Monument Fund (WMF); UNESCO, Maldivian Heritage Department, Van Berchem Foundation, SOAS, University of Bordeaux Montaigne and Toulouse University. Research and education are strongly connected in this programme and we have developed a core course; ‘Worlds of the Greater Indian Ocean’ for the AKU-FAS. Field schools in Mafia, Tanzania, the Maldives and Lahore, Pakistan are part of this programme to support and strengthen our local networks and provide new opportunities to study abroad for young local scholars.