Sujit Sivasundaram on the Age of Revolutions in the Indian and Pacific Oceans

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Welcome to the seventeenth episode of the Global History Podcast.

Today, we’d like to welcome back to the podcast Sujit Sivasundaram, Professor of World History at the University of Cambridge, Fellow and College Lecturer in History at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, and Director of the Cambridge Centre of South Asian Studies.

Professor Sivasundaram teaches and publishes widely on world history in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, especially the history of the Pacific and Indian Oceans and their islands, the history of race, global histories of science, and the history of the British Empire, c. 1780-1840.

His previous works include Nature and the Godly Empire: Science and Evangelical Mission in the Pacific, 1795-1850 (Cambridge University Press, 2005), Islanded: Britain, Sri Lanka and the Bounds of an Indian Ocean Colony (University of Chicago Press, 2013), and most recently, Waves Across the South: A New History of Revolution and Empire (William Collins, 2020).

This February, Chase spoke with Professor Sivasundaram over skype about his new book, Waves Across the South, discussing the age of revolutions in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Listen on to find out more. 

If you have any thoughts, questions, or comments about this episode, or would like to pitch us an idea for a new episode, feel free to email us at, or send us a message on our website’s contact formfacebooktwitter, or instagram. If you would like to consult further resources on global history, feel free to visit our Further Resources page.

IMAGE 1: Carte plate qui comprend l’Isle de Ceylan, et une partie des Côtes de Malabar et de Cormandel, engraved by De La Haye for Jean-Baptiste d’Après de Mannevillette’s Neptune Oriental (Paris; Brest, 1775). 27 in (68.5 cm) x 20 in (50.8 cm). Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.

IMAGE 2: Buginese Nautical Chart [Boeginese zeekaart van de Indische Archipel] (Kaart: VIII.C.a.2  external link); Anoniem, 1816. Utrecht University Library Special Collections.

IMAGE 3: William Hodges, ‘Tahitian War Canoes’, in A COLLECTION Of large Drawings in Indian ink, made by Wm. Hodges, during the second voyage of Capt. Cook, in 1772-1774, viz., Fayal; -Tonga Tabu or New Amsterdam;-Mallicolo;-Resolution Harbour, in St. Christina, one of the Marquesas;-Savage Island;- Sandwich Island;-Alietea;-War Canoes of Otaheite ;-Otaheite; New Caledonia. Created: 1774, Tahiti. Format: Drawing. Creator: William Hodges. Description: “William Hodges made these drawings of Tahitian war canoes during James Cook’s second voyage. One shows a fleet drawn up on shore at Pare, home of Tahitian chief Tu. Although ostensibly preparing for an expedition against the neighbouring island of Mo‘orea, the display was probably also intended to impress the British, and to help to form an alliance.” Shelfmark: Add MS 15743 f.8. Held by © British Library. Public Domain.

IMAGE 4: ‘Indigenous Australians in bark canoes, drawing by Tupaia’. Published: 1770. Format: Drawing. Creator: Tupaia. Description: “Tupaia’s drawing shows two canoes, in one of which a man is using a three-pronged spear to catch a fish. Banks described how, as the Endeavour entered Botany Bay, he observed ‘four small canoes’ under the southern headland: ‘In each of these was one man who held in his hand a long pole with which he struck fish, venturing with his little imbarkation almost into the surf. These people seem’d to be totaly engag’d in what they were about: the ship passd within a quarter of a mile of them and yet they scarce lifted their eyes from their employment.’” Shelfmark: MS 15508 f. 10. Held by © British Library. Public Domain.

IMAGE 5: Tupaia, ‘Longhouse and Canoes in Tahiti’, in Drawings, in Indian ink, illustrative of Capt. Cook’s first voyage, 1768 -1770, chiefly relating to Otaheite and New Zealand, by A. Buchan, John F. Miller, and others. Large Folio. Bequeathed by Sir Joseph Banks, Bart. Created: 1769. Format: Pen and Indian Ink, Watercolour, View. Creator: Tupaia. Description: “Tupa’ia, a navigator and priest from Raiatea, assisted Captain James Cook on his first voyage to the South Pacific (1769–71). The drawing shows a traditional longhouse in Tahiti situated on a beach fertile with different types of trees and plants (pandanus, breadfruit, banana, coconut and taro can all be identified). In the foreground three canoes are being navigated by local men. The double-sailed vessel on the left is a sailing canoe and the other two boats are used for war. The bow and stern of each war canoe is decorated with a wooden ‘tiki’ sculpture (a carved image of a god or ancestor). Warriors armed with spears stand on platforms raised from the sterns of both vessels ready for battle.” Shelfmark: Add MS 15508. Held by © British Library.

IMAGE 6 and COVER IMAGE: Augustus Earle, ‘Portrait of Bungaree, a native of New South Wales’ c. 1826. Place made: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Materials & Technique: painting, oil on canvas. Dimensions: 68.5 h x 50.5 w cm framed (overall) 815 h x 640 w x 70 d mm. Accession number: NGA TEMP.319. National Gallery of Australia.

IMAGE 7: ‘Cora Gooseberry, Widow of King Bungaree, Brocken Bay Tribe.’ From the collections of the State Library of New South Wales [a1114024 / SAFE/PXA 615, 34] published by J.G. Austin & Co. No. 12 Bridge Street, Sydney as W.H. Fernyhough’s “A series of twelve profile portraits of Aborigines of New South Wales”, Sydney 1836. Caption and Images from Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

IMAGE 8: Portrait of Tipu Sultan. Plate 1, ‘Picturesque Scenery in the Kingdom of Mysore’, James Hunter © British Library (Item Number 30001). Downloaded from National Museums Scotland.

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