Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Erythraean Sea

Some years ago at a conference dinner in Sydney, I found myself sitting next to a leading environmental politics scholar who had lost his voice due to a cold. Obviously, this was an opportunity too good to miss and I remember trying to make the case for what would soon after be known as “ecomodernism”. Today, flying down to Istanbul, I guess it is my turn to be voiceless.

Although the last days of teaching have completely exhausted my vocal reserves, it at least feels like the cold as such is getting better. Early tomorrow morning, I will cross the equator and get my first ever glimpse of Sub-Saharan Africa. In my imagination, it is a world of fluidity and deep history, shaped by journeys reaching back to the ancient Greeks crossing the Erythrean Sea or the Omani traders blown ashore on the Moonson winds.

After visiting Oman on a few occasions, exploring the Swahili Coast somehow seems like a very logical extension. Inherently shallow as every modern trip may be, it still adds another layer of experiences and connections, something that has proven most valuable, not the least in the classroom. For instance, I very much felt like that after visiting Ukraine last year. Unavoidable as repetition may be due to the scheduling of academic conferences, I could not be more excited about seeing something that is radically new to me.

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