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Title: Da Gama to Ghosh, and Points in Between: Littoral Forests and Cultures of Trade
Authors: Alan Johnson
Keywords: maritime trade
Indian Ocean
littoral forests
spices and wood trade
liminal subjectivities
19th century India
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment-Association of Southeast Asian Nations
Citation: Alan Johnson (2021). Da Gama to Ghosh, and Points in Between: Littoral Forests and Cultures of Trade. Journal of Southeast Asian Ecocriticism 1 (1) : 18-41. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The chief commodities of the Indian Ocean region’s littoral trade were spices and wood. (We should add people to this as well since plantation owners needed cheap laborers to work their estates, and resorted to virtual conscription for this.) Why wood? Timber was required for the increasing numbers of ships and railway carriages that were needed to transport spices around the globe. For this reason, forests, especially littoral forests, were aggressively reshaped to suit commercial enterprises. As Amrith observes, global maritime trade interconnected previously isolated areas, such as India’s “Kaveri delta and the Malayan forest” (109). Forests, so vital to this historical development, have thus played a powerful cultural role in the ramifcations of global maritime trade. On one hand, they have served as evocative symbols for many societies, helping to defne local cultures. On the other hand, forests also frequently blur both geographical and cultural boundaries.
Source Title: Journal of Southeast Asian Ecocriticism
Appears in Collections:Department Publications

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