An ethnography of piracy leads an excellent year of scholarship.
The winner of the 2020 Elliott P. Skinner Book Award is Jatin Dua (University of Michigan) for his book Captured at Sea: Piracy and Protection in the Indian Ocean, published by the University of California Press in 2019. The book is well-written and engaging, and his argument is masterfully constructed. Citing a 2013 World Bank report on maritime piracy, the author indicates that most pirate attacks occurred in the Western Indian Ocean, with over 1,000 attacks and nearly 100 deaths of non-Somalis. Dua conducts multi-site research on the East African side of the Indian Ocean in pursuit of his contextualization and analysis of Somali piracy as he assumes multiple roles as an ethnographer. In Arjun Appadurai’s call for a reorientation of a land-based area studies, he encourages scholars to consider alternative constructions, like the Pacific Rim. In the case of Captured at Sea, Dua considers Somalia, the Indian Ocean, and other areas around the “Indian Rim.”