Sailors and Daughters Early Photography and the Indian Ocean
two women

Sailors and Daughters reveals the expansive maritime societies of Zanzibar, the east African coast, and beyond. From the 1840s, cameras traced the international migrations of traders, sailors, sons, and daughters through Indian Ocean ports, continuing trade that dates back over five millennia. East African cities flourished as hubs of both land and sea trade routes, which extended to the central African interior, Horn of Africa, Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean islands, western India and the Far East.

The region’s intercultural ethos generated a multitude of encounters between subjects, photographers, and the global audiences who viewed the resulting images. By gathering images from scarce and little-known collections of early photographs, lithographs, postcards, and private albums, this exhibition focuses attention on a diverse cross-section of the region’s people and their cosmopolitan cities by the sea. It serves as a starting point for a larger photographic and creative visual history of the prosperous and diverse communities of the Indian Ocean world.