Focus and Scope

The Journal of Indian Ocean World Studies (JIOWS) is the creation of the Indian Ocean World Centre (IOWC) at McGill University. It publishes original peer reviewed articles by established and emerging scholars in the social sciences and related disciplines that contribute to an understanding of the Indian Ocean World (IOW) and its constituent parts, from early times to the present day.

The JIOWS recognises the urgent need to re-assess Eurocentric spatial, temporal and thematic paradigms that have conventionally dominated academic perceptions of extra-European regions and societies. It also recognises the significance of environmental factors in human life, and of human-environment interaction, rather than human action alone, as the major catalyst of historical change.

In spatial terms, the IOW comprises both maritime and terrestrial zones. These include all maritime areas affected by the Asian monsoon system, and significant ancillary systems of winds and currents, such as the southeastern trade wind system. Broadly speaking, the IOW monsoon zones are, from east to west, the Sea of Japan, the South and the East China seas, the Philippine Sea, the Indonesian seas, the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, and the Red Sea.

The IOW also includes all terrestrial zones affected by the monsoon and associated climatic systems, and those possessing significant durable linkages to the IOW maritime zones. These comprise regions littoral to the IOW maritime zones and the deep hinterland. The IOW includes, for example, the regions in Asia bordering the ancient overland Silk Road, and continental Africa approximately east of the Cape to Cairo line.

In this context, we invite re-examinations of conventional spatial paradigms, such as nation states, and embrace opportunities for both micro-regional and trans-regional studies. Similarly, in the light of human-environment interaction, we invite challenges to conventional temporal paradigms, such as the “early modern” and its focus on European agency. Such shifts in paradigm inevitably place a focus upon human factors of IOW origin, of different gender,  ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, and of the interaction of these human factors with changing environmental and climatic forces.

While we accept studies with single disciplinary focus, we recognise that the study of IOW history, environments, and cultures is a multidisciplinary effort, and we encourage submissions not only from standard humanities and social science disciplines, but also those addressing a broadly diverse audience that embrace tangent disciplines, such as earth sciences and genetics.


Peer Review Process

Following a double-blind process, each manuscript is evaluated on the following criteria:

1) The manuscripts are orginal in research content or offer comprehensive reviews and evaluations of key literature in a given field;

2) The manuscript is relevant to the journal's scope and aim;

3) The manuscript meets all applicable standards of ethics;

4) The manuscript conforms to the grammatical and stylistic conventions of the journal.


The editors take the reviewers' recommendations into consideration in determining revisions and publications. All final decisions regarding publication ultimately lie with the editorial board.  


Book Reviews

Following the intended launch of a book reviews section in 2021, we invite scholars to contact the Book Review Editor about books they would like to review in the Journal of Indian Ocean World Studies. We are interested in reviews of books on any facet of Indian Ocean World Studies, although, due to a conflict of interest, we will not publish any reviews of books written by the JIOWS’ Editor in Chief, the Associate Editor(s), or the Managing Editors.


State of the Field Essays

In 2021, we are excited to launch our ‘State of the Field’ series. This will be a semi-regular series of commissioned essays that discuss past, current, and future trends in Indian Ocean World Studies from different disciplinary standpoints. As with research articles, state of the field essays will be subject to a rigourous peer review process. However, given the research specialisations of the journals’ editors, authors should expect that one of the reviewers may be from the JIOWS’ editorial team. Thus, one of the two reviews may not necessarily be ‘blind’ – although their reviews will be anonymized before being sent back to the author.


Publication Frequency

The journal is published two times a year.


Open Access Policy

This journal provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge.


Author Fees

The Journal of Indian Ocean World Studies does not charge Author Processing Charges (APCs) or any other author charges.


Editor Submissions

The editors of the JIOWS are permitted to submit articles and book reviews for publication in the JIOWS. 3 years or 6 issues (whichever is longer) must nevertheless pass between each editor’s submissions.



The contents of what is published in the JIOWS do not necessarily represent the views of the Editor in Chief, the Associate Editor(s), the Managing Editors, the Book Review Editor(s), or the Editorial Board.