Realising Eurasia. Empire and Connectivity during Three Millennia
This article takes the Indian Ocean world as a frame of reference and applies a perspective guided by the concept of “connectivity in motion”. It looks, to start with, at some historical paradigms of seaborne empires (Portuguese, Dutch and British) in order to question and modify conventional, terra-centric models of the state. Substantiating an argument in favor of a more polycentric, fractured and porous model, the three central sections of the paper investigate the island of Mauritius as a “hub” and “hub society”. In three interconnected analytical and empirical steps, first the external dimension of the Mauritian hub is scrutinized. The next two sections zoom in to focus on the internal dimension of “hubbing”, first with respect to collective identities, and then at the level of individual and family strategies. In conclusion, the empirical and historical data presented in these three sections are analyzed with reference to the theoretical and methodological issues raised earlier. It is argued that the more decisive recognition of mobility and of the maritime dimension of human “connectivity in motion” brings new insights into conventional notions of statehood, nation and territory – and of the Eurasian landmass, beyond exclusively terrestrial approaches.