IOWC History

The Indian Ocean World Centre, since 2011 a McGill Research Centre, has its origins in the Indian Ocean Project (IOP) established by Gwyn Campbell in 1993 at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

The IOP established a programme in Indian Ocean studies and organized an international conference, "France, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean," that was co-sponsored by the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) and l'Institut français d'Afrique du sud (IFAS). As founder of the IOP, Campbell was invited to advise the South African Government in negotiations with a number of Indian Ocean countries (including Australia, India and Mauritius), which resulted in the formation of an Indian Ocean regional association in 1997.

The IOP was reborn in 1999 as the Association pour l'étude de l'Afrique et les pays de l'Océan Indian (AAOI) at the University of Avignon, France. There, it helped established an academic programme on North-South relations and organized five international conferences on slavery, resulting in several publications.

Following Campbell's appointment as a Canada Research Chair at McGill University in 2004, the AAOI became the Indian Ocean World Centre (IOWC) based at McGill. The IOWC's inaugural conference, "Sex, Power and Slavery," held at McGill in April 2007, constituted the ninth such international conference organised under the auspices of a research association now entering its sixteenth year.

International Conferences

2016 “Disease Dispersion and Impact in the Indian Ocean World”, McGill University, Montreal
2016 Madagascar Workshop: "The Sacred and the Profane: Society, Cosmology and Environment in Madagascar, from Early Times to the Present Day", Avignon, France
2015 10th Madagascar Workshop, 'Language, Land and Labour', McGill University, Montreal
2015 "Currencies of Commerce in the Greater Indian Ocean World", McGill University, Montreal
2014 “Trade in Animals and Animal Products in the Indian Ocean World from early times to c.1900," McGill University, Montreal
2014 “Forced Labour flow to the Mascarenes, c.1834-43,” CNRS, Paris
2014 “Zheng He’s Maritime Voyages (1405-1433) and China’s Relations with the Indian Ocean World from Antiquity,” University of Victoria, BC, Canada.
2013 "East Africa and Early Trans-Indian Ocean World Interchange," McGill University, Montreal
2013 "The European Impact on the Indian Ocean World," McGill University, Montreal
2013 "Histories of Medicine in the Indian Ocean World," McGill University, Montreal
2012 "The Dimensions of the Indian Ocean World Past: Sources and Opportunities for interdisciplinary work in Indian Ocean World History, 9th-19th Centuries," Fremantle, Australia
2012 "Textile Trades and Consumption in the Indian Ocean World, from Early Times to the Present," McGill University, Montreal
2012 "Crossroads between Empires and Peripheries – Knowledge Transfer, Product Exchange and Human Movement in the Indian Ocean World," Ghent University, Belgium
2011 "Enslavement, Bondage and the Environment in the Indian Ocean World," McGill University, Montreal
2009 "Debt and Slavery: The History of a Process of Enslavement," McGill University, Montreal
2008 "Workshop on Madagascar: Humans, Health and Environment in Madagascar," McGill University, Montreal
2007 "Sex, Power and Slavery: The Dynamics of Carnal Relations under Enslavement," McGill University, Montreal
2006 "Wine in the World: Markets, tourism and globalisation," University of Florence, Italy
2004 "Children, Unfree Labour and Slavery," Avignon, France
2004 "Wine and Economic Development from Early Times to the Present Day," Avignon, France
2002 "Women in Slavery – In Honour of Suzanne Miers," Avignon, France
2001 "Slavery, Unfree Labour and Revolt in Asia and the Indian Ocean," Avignon, France
2000 "The Structure of Slavery and Unfree Labour in Asia and the Indian Ocean during the 19th and 20th Centuries," Avignon, France
1999 "North-South Migration," Avignon, France
1995 "France, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean," Johannesburg, South Africa