in: Asia Europe Journal 5 (3), 417-33
World history has known areas of relative isolation and areas of high intensity of cultural interaction. The Mediterranean Sea, the Silk Road or the Straits of Malacca can be cited as such crucial contact zones. Within these areas, centers sprung up that served as interfaces between cultures and societies. These “hubs” as we would like to call them, emerged at various points throughout the contact zones, rose to prominence and submerged into oblivion due to a variety of natural calamities or political fortunes. This paper assesses the rise and fall of trade and knowledge hubs along the Straits of Malacca from before colonialisation until today. Historical hubs of maritime trade and religiosity today increasingly establish themselves as educational and knowledge hubs. This leads us to speak of the Straits of Malacca as a chain of – not pearls – but knowledge hubs with Singapore as the knowledge hub in the region shining the brightest of all, as the data suggest. We aim to conceptually grasp this development by suggesting a model or at least a hypothesis about the rise and movement of knowledge hubs in general.