Mandana Limbert "Prayer, Passports, and the Politics of Indian Ocean Travel"

Departmental Seminar Series features Mandana Limbert, Associate Professor at Department of Anthropology, Queens College, CUNY, New York.

The seminar is followed by informal gathering, at which refreshments are served. All are welcome!

Copyright: CUNY Queens College


This paper examines notions and practices of travel across the Indian Ocean in the first half of the twentieth century. It contrasts two regimes of imagining and managing travel between Oman and the island of Zanzibar, which before independence in 1963 had been a colony of Oman in the nineteenth century and then a British Protectorate of the Omani Sultanate in the first half of the twentieth century. First, it examines debates about prayer practices and the concerns they reflect about belonging, theocratic rule, and home among Omani settlers in Zanzibar. Second, it looks at British colonial attempts to regularize citizenship and subjecthood as well as to limit the mobility of Omani settlers. Rather than seeing these modes or regimes of travel as distinct alternatives, I emphasize their co-presence in shaping debates about national boundaries and history. Each regime has shifted the markers and constitution of loyalty, sovereignty, and social affinity in the Indian Ocean.

Research profile

Mandana E. Limbert received her PhD in Anthropology and Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan in 2002 and joined the Queens College (CUNY) faculty the same year. She became a member of the faculty of the CUNY Graduate Center in 2007.

Limbert is an expert in Cultural Anthropology, whose interests include modernity, religion, gender, historical anthropology; Middle East & Indian Ocean.

Limbert is the author of numerous articles about development politics and religiosity in Oman and the history of British and Omani empire in the Indian Ocean. ”In The Time of Oil: Piety, Memory, and Social Life in an Omani Town” is a richly textured ethnographic analysis of the transformations and tensions of everyday life in the aftermath of the massive infrastructural, bureaucratic, and social changes that followed the discovery of oil in the 1960s (Stanford, 2010). Limbert’s work in progress “Oman, Zanzibar, and the Politics of Becoming Arab”, explores the transformation of the concept of "Arab" in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries and calls into question its dominant ethno-national understanding. Publications

Mandana Limbert has been a fellow and visiting scholar at The University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender (1999-2000), New York University’s Center for Near Eastern Studies (2000-2001), the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies (2001-2002), and Duke University’s Department of Cultural Anthropology (2008-2010). She was a member of faculty of the History department at North Carolina State University (2009-2010).

Published Dec. 18, 2017 3:53 PM - Last modified May 29, 2018 9:17 AM