Crossings and Moorings: Conversations Across the Indian Ocean

Thursday 12 October 2017, 6:30 pm

at Khoj Studios

A conversation between Nidhi Mahajan and Nyambura M. Waruingi

Moderated by Sarover Zaidi

Crossings and Moorings is an immersive multi-media curatorial project exploring the movement of people, goods, and ideas across the Indian Ocean. Taking the East African coast as a starting point, this project traces the origins of those crossing the western Indian Ocean, emphasizing the everyday ways in which life across the littoral is shaped by exchange and mobility across the sea. Focusing particularly on sailing vessels or dhows that historically made movement across the Indian Ocean possible, the project offers visual modes of telling the stories of subaltern sailors and travelers who are often difficult to trace in written records. The project consists of a series of exhibitions, a website, and the development of a gaming app that is also an educational tool. The curatorial project itself is an exchange, as it is a collaboration between a curator, Nyambura M. Waruingi, based in Kenya, and a cultural anthropologist, Nidhi Mahajan, currently based in India. In this public event, Nyambura and Nidhi will talk about collaboration and methodologies of curation, ethnographic research, and on the possibilities of projects that bridge academia, art, and digital humanities. What new forms of knowing can emerge out of these conversations and collaborations?

Crossings and Moorings is presented as part of Coriolis Effect Ed III: Memory, Migration and the Current Moment.


Nidhi Mahajan is currently in residence at Khoj for the Coriolis Effect Ed III: Memory, Migration and the Current Moment. She is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at University of California – Santa Cruz and received her PhD in Anthropology from Cornell University in 2015. Her book project “Moorings: The Dhow Trade and States in the Western Indian Ocean” examines how sailors and vessel owners in the dhow trade have navigated multiple regulatory regimes across the Indian Ocean from the nineteenth century to the present.  A fantastic cook, she is currently planning in vivid detail a Dhow trip across different ports and boats.

Nyambura M. Waruingi is currently in residence at Khoj Workshop for Coriolis Effect Ed III: Memory, Migration and the Current Moment. A filmmaker and curator based in Nairobi, Kenya, Nyambura works on film, television, and visual arts projects in Kenya, Uganda, and Canada. Her most recent curatorial project, “Crossings & Moorings”, is an immersive exhibition series exploring transmission and transformation of identities across geography and time, focusing on the African diasporic cultures of the Indian Ocean. Nyambura is driven to document and tell stories that capture the ordinary moments, creating counter-narratives to hegemonic cultural and historical narratives. Future exhibitions include a travelling exhibition, Indulgence, with Ugandan curator, Violet Nantume, exploring fluidities in genders, sexualities, and pleasures in the societies of the East African region. Besides filmmaking, curating, and being an artist, she is bibliographic, and carries a deep memory of her childhood in Poland.

Sarover Zaidi is a social anthropologist. She has worked extensively on the religious architecture of the Jews, Muslims and Christians in the port cities of Bombay and Kochi. She has previously worked in rural public health, across India, and is currently working on iconography in Islamic contexts and modernism in architecture in South Asia. She also teaches intermittently at the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi and curates the forum Elementary forms and the city.

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