On May 8, 2014, Emmanuel Bruno Jean-François received the UCLA Chancellor's Award for Postdoctoral Research. This prestigious award recognizes individual's research accomplishments that show clear potential to have meaningful and enduring implications in a given academic field. As a fellow from the Mellon Postdoctoral Program in the Humanities, Dr. Jean-François's research engages with the expressive cultures of the Indian Ocean, especially the ones located in the islands of the Mascarene region. The Indian Ocean is the oldest in human history, and it has been marked, for over 5000 years, by episodes of migration, displacement, and re-settlement that have affected all the ethnic groups that have travelled across its expanse. These diasporic movements, due to trade exchanges, colonialism, slavery, and indenture continue to have an impact on the economic, cultural, and social history of the region. This history of exchange has led to identity loss and reconstruction and to biological and cultural mixing. It has also resulted in dynamic new forms of economic development and in major political challenges that affect the present. This research has implications for a more complex, global understanding of democratic practice in multicultural and multiethnic contexts.