Winner of the 2021 British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding
Starting from the ocean and from the forgotten histories of ocean-facing communities, this bracingly fresh account of the origins of the British empire centers the perspective of indigenous and non-European people in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, while insisting on the significance of the oceanic environment. Only when looking from the water can we understand where we are now.
Helps re-centre how we look at the world and opens up new perspectives on how we can look at regions, peoples and places that have been left to one side of traditional histories for far too long ~ Peter Frankopan
Waves Across the South by Sujit Sivasundaram
Starting from the ocean and from the forgotten histories of ocean-facing communities, this is a new history of the making of our world.
After revolutions in America and France, a wave of tumult coursed the globe from 1790 to 1850. It was a moment of unprecedented change and violence especially for indigenous peoples. By 1850 vibrant public debate between colonised communities had exploded in port cities. Yet in the midst of all of this, Britain struck out by sea and established its supremacy over the Indian and Pacific Oceans, overtaking the French and Dutch as well as other rivals.
Cambridge historian Sujit Sivasundaram brings together his work in far-flung archives across the world and the best new academic research in this remarkably creative book. Too often, history is told from the northern hemisphere, with modernity, knowledge, selfhood and politics moving from Europe to influence the rest of the world. This book traces the origins of our times from the perspective of indigenous and non-European people in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
This is a compulsive story full of cultural depth and range, a world history that speaks to urgent concerns today. The book weaves a bracingly fresh account of the origins of the British empire.