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Guangtian Ha

Guangtian Ha

Nias Individual Fellow

Project title

From Baghdad to Canton: Sailors, Slaves, and Global Blackness in Medieval Maritime Asia

Project description

Black sailors in medieval trans-regional seafaring across the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, were recruited, purchased, or kidnapped from various locations across Africa, Arabia, and Southeast Asia and were referred to by various names in different regions. The enslaved black sailors were the lifelines of seafaring and the human infrastructure that welded the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea.

Guangtian Ha aims to uncover the history of medieval transregional seafaring from the perspective of black sailors. By analyzing Arabic, Persian, and Classical Chinese sources alongside recent archaeological discoveries in Southeast Asia, he seeks to reclaim the silenced voices of these sailors and reconceptualize the idea of global blackness beyond Africa and its diaspora.

Selected publications

“From Baghdād to Baghpūr: Sailors and Slaves in Global Asia,” in Who is the Asianist? The Politics of Representation in Asian Studies, eds. Will Bridges, Nitasha Tamar Sharma, and Marvin D. Sterling. Association for Asian Studies & Columbia University Press, 2022.

The Sound of Salvation: Voice, Gender, and the Sufi Mediascape in China. Columbia University Press, 2022.

The Contest of the Fruits, co-edited with The Slavs and Tatars. MIT Press, 2021.