This project investigates the rise and development of the world’s first “global economy” in the context of human-environment interaction from the early centuries B.C.E. to the present day. The region under study is the Indian Ocean world (IOW), an arena of primary geo-political importance that includes eastern Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and emerging superpowers China and India. Human-environment interaction is a central theme. Natural factors to be studied include the monsoons, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), cyclones and volcanic eruptions. Rejecting environmental determinism, members of the team will also highlight human agency in responding to and reshaping the environment within the context of the making of the IOW global economy.
The project includes 36 researchers from around the globe who are divided into nine teams. Six teams are focused on archival and field research, and three will perform technical analyses of the collected documents and data.