The Newsletter 85 Spring 2020
Often considered the periphery and the liquid borderland between South Asia and Southeast Asia, the Bay of Bengal can be seen as the nodal crossroad and the cultural hub for a network of exchanges and contacts of diverse kinds. This inter-littoral world of trade, of spices and fabrics, of sandalwood and muslin, preceded the advent of the big European overseas trading corporations. It is from this time period that our contributors retrace the steps of the social, cultural, economic and political history of the Bay of Bengal and its contemporary value for the understanding of water, changing ecologies, and vulnerable livelihoods. The articles in this Focus add complexity and texture to the public discourse around the strategic importance of the Bay of Bengal, and seek to de-romanticize notions of transnational flows, bringing up instances of disconnections, disruptions, and unequal mobilities within and across the Bay.