Nidhi Mahajan is an Assistant Professor in Anthropology at the University of California in Santa Cruz and also the inaugural Fatima Mernissi Postdoctoral Fellow in Social and Cultural Studies at The Africa Institute in Sharjah. Her research examines transregional maritime connections across the Indian Ocean through shipping and trade networks, ports and their entanglements with state sovereignty. Mahajan is also an artist and has developed multi-media exhibitions for the Fort Jesus Museum in Mombasa, Khoj International Artists’ Association in New Delhi and the 2019 Sharjah Architecture Triennial.

Her publications include Seasons of sail in Reimagining Indian Ocean Worlds (Routledge, 2019); Dhow Itineraries: The Making of a Shadow Economy in the Western Indian Ocean in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (Duke University Press, 2019); At home, at sea: onboard a dhow in the Western Indian Ocean in World on the Horizon (University of Washington Press, 2018); Notes on an Archipelagic Ethnography in Island Studies Journal; and Lamu, a battleground of memory and aspiration in The Corridor: How the East African Corridor Spanning the Indian Ocean from Somalia to South Africa is being Radically Reshaped (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Association with Cityscapes Magazine, 2017).

During her fellowship at the Africa Institute, Mahajan plans to continue research on a new project that examines multiple contestations over belonging and notions of sovereignty in contemporary coastal Kenya. Her book Moorings: The Dhow Trade, Capitalism, and Sovereignty in the Indian Ocean is a historical ethnography that examines how the dhow trade has articulated with different state forms to become a crucial intermediary in global shipping.
Mahajan obtained her PhD in Anthropology from Cornell University (2015).

SAF participation:
March Meeting 2022