International Ibnu Batuta Conference on Travel, Trade, Tradition and Trajectories

Mahmood Kooria

Leiden University, the Netherlands

Mahmood Kooria is a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at the Leiden University, the Netherlands. Earlier he was a joint research fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) and African Studies Centre (ASC), Leiden. With Michael N. Pearson he has edited Malabar in the Indian Ocean World: Cosmopolitanism in a Maritime Historical Region (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2018).


When an African meets Africa(n)s in medieval Asia

In between Ibn Battuta’s extensive travels in South, Southeast and East Asia in the fourteenth century, he encountered several other Africans who also had crossed long distances before him as traders, travellers, scholars, sailors, savants, slaves and soldiers. Such transcontinental interactions among Africans and Asians were a part of the larger socio-cultural and religious exchanges in the medieval period. An architectonic frame of the Islamic world from the shores of Atlantic to the Indian Ocean demanded and facilitated the mobility of people, ideas and texts; Ibn Battuta himself utilized this network in his peregrinations.  With a brief overview of his encounters with other Africans in Asia, this paper focuses on some such Africans he had encountered on the Malabar Coast. It also argues against the monolithic characterizations in the existing literature on premodern Afro-Asian connections.