In This Review

A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire
A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire
By Sugata Bose
Harvard University Press, 2006, 352 pp

With great ingenuity, the Harvard historian Bose uses the story of the Indian Ocean from the mid-eighteenth century to the mid-twentieth century as the framework for a multidisciplinary history of peoples with distinct cultures but shared experiences. The focus on the Indian Ocean gives new dimensions to such themes as the comparative development of national identities, ethnic groupings, migration, trade networks, imperial administration, and literature. The British Empire is seen as not just an example of Western imperialism, but also an early form of globalization. Bose has certainly enriched our understanding of how people around the Indian Ocean were both attracted to and repelled by British rule -- and thus came to a rather civilized form of anticolonialism. By putting the concept of an "Indian Ocean community" front and center, he highlights the trend toward collective cooperation, on the one hand, and toward the divisive identities of the separate nationalities, on the other: the different groups know enough about one another both to work together and to harbor mutual distrust.