Trade, State, and Kinship in Minicoy (Maliku)
Panel:05 | Between the Mainland and the Deep Blue Sea: Transformation and Continuity in South Asian Islands and Littorals
Timeslot:07/27 | 11:00-11:20 UTC+2/CEST
Trade, State and Kinship in Minicoy (Maliku) – Connectivity of a small Indian Ocean island
Frank Heidemann, University of Munich
Trade, state and kinship were the major links of Minicoy (locally called Maliku) to the outer world. The island was part of the Sultanate in Male and followed the call for conversion to Islam in the 12th century. In the 17th century this most northern part of the Maldives became a tributary to the South Indian Ali Rajas, but the islanders continued their trade with Male, Ceylon and India and maintained their kinship relations with the Maldives. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the island was under British administration. In 1956 Maliku became a part of the Indian Union and today marks the south-western border of the nation state. Trade and marriage ties, which once linked the Malikuns to the islands of the Maldives, were discontinued, because an international border separates the territories. In this paper I shall discuss the relationship of Malikuns to the littoral societies in South India, which have undergone drastic transformations after 1956. In Kochi and other harbour cities a small Malikun diaspora is emerging. Medical care, formal education and new openings in the economic field had a lasting impact on mobility and residential pattern. Today, most men from Maliku work on trading ships world-wide, holding Indian passports. Two seamen´s associations are based in Mumbai, from where the Malikuns embark. In the course of this new orientation, the islanders have established new ways of interaction with the littoral societies in Kerala and with the administration of the Indian state.