The Indian Ocean World (IOW)

The IOW is a macro-region of primary economic and geo-political importance that has played a major role in global history since antiquity at the latest. It includes eastern Africa, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia and maritime East Asia, especially China and southern Japan. It is defined by a system of long-distance exchanges of goods, people, ideas, and technologies that, until the advent of steamships, has been dominated by a monsoon-based system of trans-oceanic trade and transfer. The IOW can thus be considered home to the first “global” economy, one that dominated the macro-region until at least the mid-eighteenth century (see Like the IOWC we pursue an interdisciplinary approach, examining the history of diplomatic relations, the transfer of science and technologies, commodity and product exchange, trade, cultural aspects in their widest interpretation, religions, as well as migration and the organisation and functioning of networks.


Our research focus lies on the investigation of interaction, communication and exchange relations across the entire macro-region, with a main emphasis on China and Asian interactions. Since 2009, Angela Schottenhammer has been involved in a close cooperation with the Indian Ocean World Centre (IOWC), based at McGill University and directed by Gwyn Campbell, and has acted as its Research Director between 2010 and 2020. Most important projects are the Major Collaborative Research Project (MCRI) “The Indian Ocean World: The Making of the First Global Economy in the Context of Human-Environment Interaction” (2010–2017), see; and currently the project “Appraising Risk, Past and Present: Interrogating Historical Data to Enhance Understanding of Environmental Crises in the Indian Ocean World” (2017–), see – both sponsored by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).