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Before the Indo Pacific: The Legacy of Indian Ocean Geopolitics During the Cold War

Date & Time

Dec. 10, 2019
4:00pm – 5:30pm ET


5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
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The Trump administration has branded its core Asia policy as an Indo-Pacific strategy. “Indo Pacific” is just the latest term to be used to describe a region stretching from the southern shores of Asia to the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Before Indo Pacific, there was Indian Ocean—a key spatial category, according to historian Berenice Guyot-Rechard, to understand the notion of Indo Pacific today.

During the Cold War, the Indian Ocean may have been an area of limited importance for the United States. But for the countries around the shores of the Indian Ocean—most of them grappling with the difficult, long-term process of decolonization—the region was a space to assert sovereignty, forge new post-colonial solidarities, and make a mark on the international order. All this, in turn, transformed oceans into a major resource and sovereignty frontier—and made them highly politicized.

Dr. Guyot-Rechard will sketch out these Cold War-era geopolitical contestations over the Indian Ocean, and consider how their legacy has impacted how we envision the Indo Pacific today.

Image: Alexander Lukatskiy /


Guyot-Rechard, Berenice

Berenice Guyot-Rechard

Former Fellow;
Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in 20th Century International History, King's College London
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Hosted By

Asia Program

The Asia Program promotes policy debate and intellectual discussions on U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific as well as political, economic, security, and social issues relating to the world’s most populous and economically dynamic region.   Read more

History and Public Policy Program

The History and Public Policy Program strives to make public the primary source record of 20th and 21st century international history from repositories around the world, to facilitate scholarship based on those records, and to use these materials to provide context for classroom, public, and policy debates on global affairs.  Read more

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