From 2009 to 2012, a dramatic upsurge in incidents of maritime piracy in the Western Indian Ocean led to renewed global attention to this fraught and sometimes over-determined region. It was time for another great unleashing: the deployment of multinational naval patrols, attempts to prosecute suspected pirates, the development of financial interdiction systems to track and stop the flow of piracy ransoms. Largely seen as the maritime ripple effect of anarchy on land, piracy has been slotted into narratives of state failure and problems of governance and criminality in this region. Through a focus on longer histories of trade, diaspora, and regulation, this talk reframes maritime piracy within worlds of protection that straddle boundaries of land and sea, law and economy, history and anthropology. 

Jatin Dua is an assistant professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. His research explores maritime piracy in the Indian Ocean, focusing on processes and projects of governance, law, and economy along the East African coast. His forthcoming book, Captured at Sea: Piracy and Protection in the Indian Ocean, will be published by the University of California Press in December 2019. In addition, he has published a number of articles on maritime anthropology, captivity, political economy, and sovereignty. He is currently studying port-making (and unmaking) and the daily forms of circulation and governance that occur across the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, a key maritime chokepoint connecting the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean.