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05 | Between the Mainland and the Deep Blue Sea: Transformation and Continuity in South Asian Islands and Littorals

South Asian littorals are connected, desired, exposed – and challenged by radical transformations. We examine whether, how and to what extent historical patterns continue in the present. This addresses both the relationships littoral societies attain and disciplinary emphasis on certain qualities.


· Eva-Maria Knoll Insitute for Social Anthropology, Austrian Academy of Sciences (Vienna, Austria)
· Frank Heidemann Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich (Munich, Germany)


· 07/27 | 09:00-10:30 UTC+2/CEST
· 07/27 | 11:00-12:30 UTC+2/CEST

Long Abstract

Within the last two decades, islands and littorals had gained attention from various fields for being distinctly connected, desired and exposed–as well as exceptionally challenged by radical transformations. According to M. Pearson, littoral societies are characterized by a complex mixture of maritime and terrestrial influences; thus have more in common with other shore folk than with their inland neighbors. Surprisingly, investigations of these permeable land-sea relations often remained within disciplinary boundaries. Historical disciplines have discussed littorals as cosmopolitan environments exposed to external influences, the trade in valued resources and the special skills developed at the coast (boat building, navigation). The transformation of beach zones into a stereotypical tropical paradise is stressed in economy and tourism studies. The exposure to natural crisis (tsunamis, epidemics, climate change) is highlighted by climatologists and ecologists. This panel brings together aspects of connectedness, appreciation and exposedness by enhancing dialogues of respective disciplinary approaches. It examines whether, how, and to what extent historical patterns continue in the present. This addresses both the specific relationships littoral societies attain between the mainland and the sea and the disciplinary emphasis on certain qualities. We invite papers from various disciplinary backgrounds discussing ecological, occupational or lifestyle challenges in littoral societies between the Arabian and the Andaman Sea. Papers may have a historical or a present-day focus, but should also reflect on the strengths and limitations of the respective disciplinary viewpoint.

Comment: Philipp Zemisch