How humanity’s destiny can be framed by shared heritages through oceanic connections

How can we think of the world as composed of categories derived from particular spaces and lifeworlds, rather than a space with categories seen as universal? How do we move beyond contingent formations, like nations and the triad of pre-, colonial, and post-colonial, to think about connected paracolonial histories between Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean? Dilip Menon is currently the Mellon Chair of Indian Studies at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. As a historian of ideas, he was educated at the universities of Delhi, Oxford, and Cambridge. His research focuses on oceanic histories and epistemology of the global south. At Falling Walls, Dilip will talk about creating a paracolonial framework that goes beyond the nation state, and that looks at the ways in which humanity’s destiny is framed by shared heritages through oceanic connections. In a time of global warming, the rising waters, and vast human migrations, we need a politics of affinity that moves from the idea of stranger to that of friendship.

Dilip Menon was voted Science Breakthrough of Year in the category Social Sciences and Humanities at the Falling Walls Science Summit. To find out more go to

The Falling Walls Science Summit was part of Berlin Science Week 2021 and hosted by the Falling Walls Foundation.