Global South Colloquium


CAPI's Global South Colloquium series centres the Global South into ongoing conversations about the making of the modern world. The colloquium serves as a forum for faculty, students, and all members of the UVic community to focus on the Global South, traditionally referring to South Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East’s histories, cultures, and politics. More than a geographical orientation to the “non-West,” the colloquium poses the Global South as a provocation to orient discussions about the world-system, its contours, inequities, and sources of power, including a focus not divided by geography but placement within global histories and practices. Each year will revolve around a theme in the history of globalization, including topics such as religion and secularism, artistic exchange, ecological change, the politics of indigeneity, critical development studies, and decolonization.

indian ocean map

Asia in World History: Indian Ocean Perspectives

A Workshop for Emerging Scholars, 
21 - 23 November 2024


CALL FOR PAPERS - Deadline: 29 January 2024

Applications are solicited for participation in the second annual iteration of the annual Asia in World History workshop. 

Eligible candidates will be working on their first books and have attained their PhDs within the last five years. Additionally, PhD candidates at the advanced ABD level will be considered. Scholars from any discipline may apply, but priority will be given to scholars deploying historical methods in their research.

The theme for this year's workshop is Geopolitics, broadly defined. Disciplinary specialization is open, though the workshop will focus on Indian Ocean perspectives within a historical framework. Studies of migration, labor, gender, sexuality, environmentalism, and related issues are welcome, so long as the geopolitics of the Indian Ocean are addressed within the project.

Three scholars will be chosen to both present facets of their projects in progress as well as engage in larger discussions about the field and the role of Indian Ocean topics inside Asian and global histories. The event will feature a range of participants, including sessions with an interdisciplinary collective of scholars across ranks, and advanced PhD students.

Local expenses, including accommodation, meals and local transport, will be provided by the University of Victoria. Partial travel stipends will be made available to those without institutional funding. The workshop will be an in-person event, so all participants must commit to physical attendance.

How to Apply
Please submit the following in one PDF file:

▪ a cover letter detailing research interests and fit with the workshop theme
▪ a CV
▪ a table of contents
▪ a writing sample of no more than 30 pages

Criteria for selection features both the strength of scholarly intervention as well as the ability to contribute to a larger discussion about the field. Successful applicants will be asked to send a chapter for discussion in advance of the workshop.

Please send applications to by 29 January 2024. Decisions will be conveyed to all applicants by April 30, 2024.

Call for Papers

About the series

Designed for a three-year period (2023, 2024, and 2025), this annual workshop brings together ongoing discussions in the World History Caucus, the Global South Colloquium, the South Asia Global Forum, and discussions in the Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Law regarding the role of the Indian Ocean as an entry into the study of globalization in and of Asia. The program features a venue for emerging scholars to present aspects of their books in progress to a diverse audience of interlocutors working on Indian Ocean studies. Additionally, the program includes sessions on new perspectives on the field as well as a keynote lecture by a senior scholar of Indian Ocean studies. The theme for 2023 was Culture, Conflict, and Coordination, featuring emerging scholars working on Indian Ocean topics from literary criticism, intellectual history, and labor history. Upcoming workshops will focus on Geopolitics (2024) and Law and Migration in the Indian Ocean (2025).


2023 Workshop


Participants at the 2023 workshop



Neilesh Bose is Associate Professor of History and Canada Research Chair of Global and Comparative History at the University of Victoria.

Smriti Srinivas is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California-Davis.

Renisa Mawani is Professor of Sociology and Canada Research Chair of Colonial Legal Histories at the University of British Columbia

Sebastian Prange is Associate Professor of History at the University of British Columbia

Neelofer Qadir is Assistant Professor of English at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

Taushif Kara is Lecturer of Theology and Religion at Kings College London.

Ritesh Jaiswal is Assistant Professor of History at Delhi University.

Wilson Jacob Chacko is Professor of History at Concordia University.

Neelima Jeychandran Assistant Professor in African Visual Cultures in the Department of Art History at Virginia Commonwealth University, Qatar

Victor Ramraj is Professor of Law, CAPI Chair in Asia-Pacific Legal Relations, and Director of the Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives

Pooja Parmar is Associate Professor of Law and President’s Chair in Law and Indigeneity in a Global Context

Arunima Datta is Assistant Professor of History at Idaho State University.

Andrew Wender is Associate Teaching Professor of History and Political Science and Director of Religion, Culture, and Society program at the University of Victoria.

John Rogers is Director of the American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies.

Dharitri Bhattacharjee is Assistant Professor of History at Western Washington University.




Conference Report by Husnain Iqbal, Ph.D. Candidate (ABD), Political Science, University of Victoria 


Asia in World History

Indian Ocean Perspectives: Culture, Conflict, and Coordination

A Workshop for Emerging Scholars | June 15-16, 2023



The first edition of the three-year annual workshop was held on June 15-16, 2023, at the Center for Asia Pacific Initiative (CAPI), University of Victoria. Dr. Neilesh Bose, the chair, opened the proceedings by emphasizing the exploration of 'new ways of thinking about world and transregional history,' with the Indian Ocean as an entry point into these fields of study.


Recent Trends in Indian Ocean Studies

The first session began with Dr. Sebastian Prange and Dr. Renisa Mawani’s reflections on recent trends in Indian Ocean Studies (IOS), that followed from their recent scholarly interventions in the field (Prange 2018; Mawani 2018). Dr. Prange’s monograph explores the development of 'Monsoon Islam' within Indian Ocean Muslim trading communities from the twelfth to sixteenth centuries, emphasizing its merchant-driven, commercially motivated, and coexistence-oriented nature, with a focus on the Malabar Coast as a case study reflecting broader trans-oceanic Islamic evolution. Dr. Mawani’s work investigates the historical and conceptual implications of situating migration histories within maritime worlds, revealing the complex jurisdictional tensions and the significant role of the sea within British imperial power dynamics, offering a novel approach to writing colonial legal history. Drawing from these contributions, they stressed the need to examine the ‘materiality’ of networks (Prange) and ‘political conditions’ (Mawani) that sustain nodes of exchanges and processes of securitization in the Indian Ocean World. The participants welcomed this proposal and put forth additional factors to contextualize and explore numerous facets of the IOW. Some of the factors suggested by the participants include power configurations, geopolitics, caste, race and gender, and indigeneity.

Dr. Smriti Srinivas' keynote address drew from her recent contributions to Indian Ocean Studies. (Srinivas, Ng’weno, and Jeychandran 2020) Dr. Srinivas explained the challenge of capturing the 'porousness and flexibility' of the Indian Ocean Worlds using existing conceptual tools and made a case for an interdisciplinary approach involving cultural anthropology and IOS. This approach aims to expand the spiritual and spatial boundaries of the Indian Ocean while generating new vocabularies to navigate this vast expanse. Some of the vocabularies proposed by Dr. Srinivas include 'multiple temporalities,' 'urban sensorium,' and 'spirited topographies.' Dr. Srinivas also raised concerns about the 'overemphasis' of IOS on island cities and ports, illustrating her point by tracing the development of Bangalore as an 'ocean city' within the context of Indian Ocean exchanges.


Key Themes & Future Directions

The main session of the workshop introduced the scholarship of three emerging scholars working in literary criticism (Dr. Neelofer Qadir), intellectual history (Dr. Taushif Kara), and labour history (Dr. Ritesh Jaiswal) to the interlocutors in the field of IOS. Three broad themes emerged from the discussion:


Indian Ocean as a method

Participants agreed that the ocean is multiple and a site of circulation, thus, future research must explore many layers that (un)-make the IOW. In line with recent scholarship on the ‘oceans as method’ (Hofmeyr 2012; Mawani 2018; Menon et al. 2022), participants recognized posing the Indian Ocean as an analytical method like the Black Atlantic. This might involve extending axes of inquiry, historicizing the Indian Ocean, creating transoceanic dialogues, contesting oceanic imaginary, benefiting from Subaltern 2.0, and undoing colonial epistemology. Dr Ritesh Jaiswal, drawing from Menon et al., further argued that this method might help bypass Eurocentric and nation-centric histories and provide better insights about contemporary problems such as the rise in xenophobia in response to increased mobility. Participants also argued for spatial broadening of the Indian Ocean to capture the porousness of the IOW and transoceanic exchanges.


Indian Ocean as a geopolitical arena

The geopolitical dimension of IOW was also discussed. Dr. Mawani noted ‘inter-imperial entanglement,’ ‘frontier formation,’ and the ‘expansion of British security imperial state’ to regulate the circulation in the Indian Ocean as important areas for further research. Dr. Mawani also emphasized the importance of minor histories that get erased because of the bigger stories/events. (a point in line with Srinivas, Jeychandran, Prange, Chacko, Jaiswal, Qadir, & Parmar’s emphases) Dr. Bose argued for adding the layer of geopolitics that has become important because of recent geopolitical shifts and proposed naval history as a potential area of further research. Dr. Qadir suggested ‘re-historicizing’ the Indian Ocean to better make sense of the emerging multipolarity in international politics.


Methods of inquiry

Participants proposed several methods of inquiry to capture the multiplicity, multidimensionality, and porousness of the Indian Ocean over time. These methods included the use of biography, archaeology, ethnographic methods, network tracing, public engagement, imagination, and the use of archives. The reliability of these methods also came under discussion. Notably, the limits of using archival research to capture minor histories. Drawing on the work of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Dr. Mawani noted that one must be mindful of how we measure the voices from archives and what kind of narratives become possible in the first place. Similarly, Dr. Jaiswal argued that the ‘concealment’ of non-indenture migrations by the colonial state to create free/un-free dichotomy left gaps in the archives, silencing narratives.


Future workshops will focus on topics such as geopolitics, migration, and security.



Hofmeyr, Isabel. 2012. “The Complicating Sea: The Indian Ocean as Method.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 32 (3): 584–90.

Mawani, Renisa. 2018. Across Oceans of Law: The Komagata Maru and Jurisdiction in the Time of Empire. Duke University Press.

Menon, Dilip M., Nishat Zaidi, Simi Malhotra, and Saarah Jappie. 2022. Ocean as Method: Thinking with the Maritime. New York: Routledge.

Prange, Sebastian R. 2018. Monsoon Islam: Trade and Faith on the Medieval Malabar Coast. Cambridge Oceanic Histories. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Srinivas, Smriti, Bettina Ng’weno, and Neelima Jeychandran, eds. 2020. Reimagining Indian Ocean Worlds. New York: Routledge.


Announcements and Publications


Renisa Mawani has been appointed as co-editor for the Oceanic Histories Series at Cambridge (with David Armitage and Sujit Sivasundaram).

Wilson Chacko Jacob has been awarded a two-year SSHRC Insight Development grant to start a new project springing from his history of Sayyid Fadl’s Indian Ocean career. It’s tentatively called “Changing Environments: Between Islamic and Imperial Visions of Good Life in the Indian Ocean World.”

Neelofer Qadir is co-editing a special issue on brown/ness(es) for Verge: Studies in Global Asia (forthcoming in Spring 2024). The issue features works by ethnographers, historians, and literary and visual critics all thinking about forms of racializations within the frameworks of Global Asias.



Arunima Dutta

Dutta, Arunima. Fleeting Agencies: A Social History of Indian Coolie Women in British Malaya, Cambridge University Press, 2021 (paperback released in August 2023)

Dutta, Arunima. Waiting on Empire: A History of Indian Traveling Ayahs in Britain, Oxford University Press, 2023

Dutta, Arunima. “Becoming Visible: Travel Documents and Travelling Ayahs in the British Empire,” South Asian Studies, 38: 2 (2022): 141-160

Dutta, Arunima. “Pony Up!: Managing Destitution among British Grooms from Australia in Nineteenth-Century India,” Journal of Labour History, 122:1 (2022): 155–179


Renisa Mawani

Mawani, Renisa. “The Law of the Sea: Oceans, Ships, and the Anthropocene.” In P. Burdon & J. Martel (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Law and the Anthropocene. London: Routledge, 2023, 115-129.


Day 1

Thursday 15 June 2023

8:30 - 9:00am Breakfast and Coffee
9:00 - 9:15am Introduction Neilesh Bose, University of Victoria
9:15 -10:30am
Indian Ocean studies: Recent Perspectives on the Field
“The Transacting Sea: Goods, Markets, and Flows in the Pre-modern Indian Ocean” (on Zoom) Sebastian Prange, University of British Columbia
“The Intimacies of Commerce: A Speculative Archive of Love and Loss in the Indian Ocean World, 1917-1920” (on Zoom) Renisa Mawani, University of British Columbia
10:30 – 10:45 am Coffee Break
10:45am - 12:00pm
Keynote Lecture: “Contemporaneous Lives in Indian Ocean Worlds: Towards New Keywords”
Smriti Srinivas, UC-Davis
12:00 - 1:00pm Lunch
1:00 – 2:15pm
Emerging Scholar I


Neelofer Qadir, University of North Carolina-Greensboro

Chair: Neilesh Bose, University of Victoria
Discussant: Neelima Jeychandran, Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar (Zoom) 

2:15 – 2:30pm


2:30 – 3:45pm
Emerging Scholar II      

“The Imam between the Merchant and the King”

Taushif Kara, Kings College London

Chair: Andrew Wender, University of Victoria
Discussant: Wilson Jacob Chacko, Concordia University

3:45 – 4:00pm Break
4:00 - 5:15pm
Emerging Scholar III     

Mediated (Im)Mobility: The Non-Indentured Systems of Indian migration to Ceylon, Malaya, and Burma

Ritesh Jaiswal, Delhi University

Chair: Victor Ramraj, University of Victoria
Discussant: Arunima Datta, University of Idaho (Zoom)

Day 2  

Friday, June 16, 2023                                                                       

9:30 - 11:00am
 Indian Ocean Studies and World History 

"National History and World History: The Case of Sri Lanka"


John Rogers, American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies

Discussant: Dharitri Bhattacharjee, Western Washington University

11:00 - 11:15

Coffee Break

11:15 -12:00pm

Closing Roundtable







Sponsored by:


Kewal Singh Pabla, who opened Himalaya Restaurant in Vancouver, Canada, in 1973.

Punjab in the World: History, Politics, and Migration Lecture Series

The 2022 Global South Colloquium focuses on the modern history of the Punjab as well as Punjabi migrations in global and transnational contexts. Featuring scholars from a range of disciplines, this series examines issues such as the Sikh Empire and its historic importance, the history of colonial Punjab, contemporary farmers’ protests, and popular and visual culture as an angle into the global history of Punjab in the world.​

20 Jan 2022 | Royals and Rebels: The Rise and fall of the Sikh Empire - Priya Atwal

Royals and Rebels: The Rise and fall of the Sikh Empire

20 January 2022

Priya Atwal

Priya Atwal

Community History Fellow, Faculty of History, University of Oxford

Talk description . . .

This presentation provides an introductory overview to the rise and fall of the so-called “Sikh Empire”: the pan-Punjabi kingdom ruled by the family of Maharajah Ranjit Singh, up till 1849. What factors led to the emergence of this powerful new kingdom and its 'frenemy' relationship with the East India Company? More specifically, by engaging more deeply with the gender politics of the Punjab's ruling elite during this pivotal period, what can we learn anew about the historical fortunes of this influential, but short-lived state? A focus on the lesser-studied queens and princes of the “Sikh Empire” - who built and ruled the kingdom alongside its distinguished founding father, Maharajah Ranjit Singh - will enable us to explore these questions in this seminar.

Lecture video:

27 January 2022 | Philology of another Future: Revisiting Ernst Trumpp and German Orientalism - G.S. Sahota

Philology of another Future: Revisiting Ernst Trumpp and German Orientalism

27 January 2022

G.S. Sahota

G.S. Sahota

Associate Professor, Aurora Chair in Sikh and Punjabi Studies, Department of Literature, UC Santa Cruz

Talk description . . .

Walter Benjamin suggestively remarked that philology should be grasped not as a science or history of language but rather as a “history of terminology.” This presentation will seek to explore what a turn to terminology might mean for a study of the impact of German Orientalism on categories of Sikh thought in the wake of colonialism. After laying out some general characteristics of German thought vis à vis India, the talk will focus on the interpretive frameworks Ernst Trumpp (1828-1885) brought to bear on his influential translation and interpretation of Sikh scripture and the role of Nanak as the founder (Stifter) of the Sikh faith. The presentation will conclude with some notions of what an alternative philology – and a different terminology – may look like in the context of the contemporary critique of humanism that unwittingly threatens to cast aside the historical experiences, interpretive approaches, and intellectual frameworks of the those deemed less than human in the age of imperialism.

Lecture video:

03 Feb 2022 | Reading the Embattled Text: Reflections on Reading the Voices of Punjabi Soldiers - Gajendra Singh

Reading the Embattled Text: Reflections on Reading the Voices of Punjabi Soldiers

03 February 2022

Gajendra Singh

Gajendra Singh

Senior Lecturer, History, University of Exeter

Talk description . . .

This talk will explore the experiences of Indian soldiers in the colonial Indian Army. It will not be a discussion of the colonial construction of martial races, of recruitment, discipline and their combat effectiveness. It will instead discuss those spaces and moments when soldiers were not fighting, and in which they could write and share their experiences in their letters (particularly during the First World War). This paper will relate the production and circulation of colonial Indian soldiers’ testimonies to the porous and impermanent nature of their identities. It will talk in particular about Indian Muslim soldiers’ identities and of their appraisal and re-appraisal of Islam in the trenches. And, it will end by explaining why, and what I mean, when I choose to read such texts as embattled.

Lecture video:

10 Feb 2022 | The Amritsar Massacre in Historical Context - Kim Wagner

The Amritsar Massacre in Historical Context

10 February 2022

Kim Wagner

Kim Wagner

Professor, School of History, Queen Mary University of London

Talk description . . .

The Amritsar Massacre, during which hundreds of people were killed at Jallianwala Bagh in in 1919, was a seminal moment in the history of India and the British Empire. Yet, 100 years on, it remains poorly understood and largely shrouded in myth. In this talk, I examine the massacre in the context of colonial mentality and the local dynamics of Indian nationalism.

Lecture video:

16 Feb 2022 | Remnants of a Partition: Migration Histories - Aanchol Malhotra

Remnants of Partition: Migration Histories

16 February 2022

Aanchal Malhotra

Aanchal Malhotra

Author and Historian

Talk description . . .

"Remnants of Partition" is an alternative history, telling the family stories hidden within items carried by refugees between the newly formed India and Pakistan, amid chaos and violence of the 1947 Partition. These objects - a string of pearls gifted by a maharaja, a notebook of poems, a refugee certificate, a phulkari bagh, utensils of everyday use - and emerge as testaments to land and belonging, to identities reforged amidst the largest mass migration in the world. The conversations that accompany them uncover a tapestry of pain and rupture, but also of hope and connection. In this talk, I will detail the process of field research for this work, in navigating the border between India and Pakistan, and the memories of Partition that remain on either side, through oral history interviewing.

Remnants of a Separation book cover
Lecture video:

17 Feb 2022 | Caste, Anti-Caste Politics, and Punjabi History - Navyug Gill

Caste, Anti-Caste Politics, and Punjabi History

17 February 2022

G.S. Sahota

Navyug Gill

Professor, Department of History, William Paterson University

Talk description . . .

This talk explores the contradictory history of Panjabi Dalits converting out of Hinduism yet not out of lowliness or casteism in early twentieth century colonial India. I begin by contextualizing what B. R. Ambedkar’s undelivered 1936 Lahore speech on annihilating caste might have meant to an audience of largely landless agricultural laborers. Next I examine the changing range of caste names and occupational designations for these groups amid the emergence of the Ad Dharm movement and its struggle to impart equality and dignity to Dalits in Panjab. To situate this new sense of identity in the context of actual labor practices, I then analyze the fraught relationship between landholding cultivators and landless laborers working side-by-side while continuing to be separate and unequal. My talk concludes by reflecting on the implications of this unique anti-caste politics for a new horizon of emancipation in contemporary Panjab.

Lecture video:
please email for access to this video

03 Mar 2022 | Sikh Studies in an Era of University/World-Making - Anneeth Kaur-Hundle

Sikh Studies in an Era of University/World-Making

03 March 2022

G.S. Sahota

Anneeth Kaur Hundle

Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, UC Irvine

Talk description . . .

I offer a (very brief) overview of the development of the field of Sikh Studies in the Western academy, the emergence of Critical Sikh Studies, and exciting new directions in the field. I discuss my work developing Sikh Studies at the University of California, Irvine, and my research that spans Sikh encounters with East Africa, Sikh feminisms, and the intersections of Sikh Studies/university studies.

Lecture video:

10 Mar 2022 | Punjabi Migration and BC Histories - Satwinder Bains and Mary Anne Vallianatos

Punjabi Migration and BC Histories

10 March 2022

Satwinder Bains

Satwinder Bains

Associate Professor, Social, Cultural, & Media Studies, University of the Fraser Valley


Mary Anne Vallianatos

PhD Candidate, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria

Talk description . . .

Early 1900’s migration by Punjabis to BC can be studied from various precarious positions and the intense push and pull factors that initiated and maintained migration numbers of a mostly bachelor society. Activism was the very foundation and backbone of early migrant resistance against discriminatory legislation, flagrantly racist public opinion and biased media. Solidarity for the causes was both formally organized and informally supported through behemoth individual efforts, powerfully maintained clan kinship and institutional purpose. In the early years, lives were lost, migration dreams went unfulfilled, persecution of the highest order was meted out, constant threats of deportation were present and yet they persevered within the colonial histories of oppression.

Lecture video:

17 Mar 2022 | Archiving Punjabi Migrations - Rajbir Judge

Archiving Punjabi Migrations

17 March 2022

Rajbir Judge

Rajbir Judge

Assistant Professor, Department of History, California State University, Long Beach

Talk description . . .

The study of Punjabi Sikh migration, much like the archive, is concerned with beginnings. Our world, however, might not have such beginnings (or ends) in its shadowless form. In this talk, I want to focus on the uncanny dimensions of migration that disrupt given routes by exploring the constant evocations that Central California and Punjab have a resemblance. Rather than affirming or denying this uncanny dimension, I want to work within it by asking: how do we archive dust and poison--two central features of Punjabi Sikh life in California (or is it Punjab)?

Lecture video:
please email for access to this video

24 Mar 2022 | Farmer Protests: Updates and Approaches - Natasha Behl

Farmer Protests: Updates and Approaches

24 March 2022

Natasha Behl

Natasha Behl

Associate Professor, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arizona State University

Talk description . . .

India, the world’s largest democracy, has been experiencing a democratic decline. Since coming to power in 2014 and winning reelection in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party have become increasingly illiberal and authoritarian. The rule of law has deteriorated, rights and liberties have been curtailed, and scholars and the media have been silenced. If electoral constraint, constitutional design, judicial independence, and the media haven’t slowed India’s march toward illiberalism, what can? In November 2020, India’s farmers began a massive and highly organized protest against the government. In this talk, I ask: In what ways has this protest protected Indian democracy from further degradation, and has it radically altered India’s political future? I argue that the farmers’ protest provides an alternative vision of Indian democracy, one rooted in radical egalitarianism. Protesting farmers have actualized the spirit of dissent enshrined in the constitution by holding the current government accountable to it. Protestors have also developed forms of solidarity within protest spaces, opening up the possibility for more equitable forms of democracy.

Lecture video:

31 Mar 2022 | Performing Punjab, Punjabi, Punjabiyaat - Anjali Gera Roy

Performing Punjab, Punjabi, Punjabiat

31 March 2022

Anjali Gera Roy

Anjali Gera Roy

Professor, Humanities and Social SciencesIndian Institute of Technology

Talk description . . .

The notion of place as a construct has an important bearing on the imagining of Punjab. If its fluid, shifting, porous boundaries in the precolonial period posed a problem in the marking of its territorial limits, its geographical engineering during the colonial era altered its sacred geographies and the drawing of imaginary lines during the making of postcolonial states signaled the closure of its fuzzy, permeable boundaries. With the discursive and literal disengagement of Punjab’s spatiality and territoriality from place, the region has been imagined as an ethnospatial, ethnolinguistic, ethnocultural, and even an ethnoreligious complex, over the decades. Although attempts have also been made to define Punjabiat (Punjabiness) as a mysterious essence shared by all Punjabis, they have been critiqued from the perspectives of region, class, caste, gender and sect. As place gets detached from nation, language from ethnicity, and religion from faith, the region is imagined as a small place, a neighbourhood, a city, a village but also as performative traditions, rituals and everyday practices.

Building on the metaphor of free-flowing cartographies that I have proposed in relation to Punjab that can facilitate its imaginings as a geographical region, a social construct and a state of consciousness, this paper talks to deconstruct Punjab as an ethno-spatial but also an ethno-linguistic and ethno-cultural construct through examining its imagining by the Punjabi diaspora forced to migrate outside Punjab.

Lecture video:

07 Apr 2022 | Sikh Art and Activism in the Contemporary Era - Melia Belli Bose

Sikh Art and Activism in the Contemporary Era

07 April 2022

Melia Belli Bose

Melia Belli Bose

Associate Professor, Art History & Visual Studies, University of Victoria

Talk description . . .

This module examines paintings by the contemporary Punjabi-British twins Amrit Singh and Rabindra Kaur Singh, known as the Singh Twins. Their internationally acclaimed art explores current socio-political issues, heritage and identity, and disrupts canonical Eurocentric perceptions of art.

Lecture video:

Empire and Decolonization in World History

This year's seminar series investigates the role of empire and decolonization in new and current approaches to historical analyses of the modern world. With contributions from political theory as well as American history, framed within lenses of global histories of empire and colonialism, this series explores current debates about decolonization in a comparative and global perspective.

2020/21 Talks and events:

Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination - Adom Getachew | 15 Oct 2020

Adom Getachew

Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination

15 October 2020

Adom Getachew

Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Political Science and the College at the University of Chicago

with responses by Andrew Wender (UVic History and Political Science) and Elizabeth Vibert (UVic History)


Decolonization revolutionized the international order during the twentieth century. Yet standard histories that present the end of colonialism as an inevitable transition from a world of empires to one of nations—a world in which self-determination was synonymous with nation-building—obscure just how radical this change was. Drawing on the political thought of anticolonial intellectuals and statesmen such as Nnamdi Azikiwe, W.E.B Du Bois, George Padmore, Kwame Nkrumah, Eric Williams, Michael Manley, and Julius Nyerere, this important new account of decolonization reveals the full extent of their unprecedented ambition to remake not only nations but the world.

Adom Getachew shows that African, African American, and Caribbean anticolonial nationalists were not solely or even primarily nation-builders. Responding to the experience of racialized sovereign inequality, dramatized by interwar Ethiopia and Liberia, Black Atlantic thinkers and politicians challenged international racial hierarchy and articulated alternative visions of worldmaking. Seeking to create an egalitarian postimperial world, they attempted to transcend legal, political, and economic hierarchies by securing a right to self-determination within the newly founded United Nations, constituting regional federations in Africa and the Caribbean, and creating the New International Economic Order.

Using archival sources from Barbados, Trinidad, Ghana, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, Worldmaking after Empire recasts the history of decolonization, reconsiders the failure of anticolonial nationalism, and offers a new perspective on debates about today’s international order.

- from the publisher


Watch the talk

Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination

Empire's Tracks: Indigenous Nations, Chinese Workers, and the Transcontinental Railroad - Manu Karuka | 5 November 2020

Manu Karuka

Assistant Professor of American Studies at Barnard College

with responses by Heidi Stark (UVic Political Science) and Jason Colby (UVic History)


Empire’s Tracks boldly reframes the history of the transcontinental railroad from the perspectives of the Cheyenne, Lakota, and Pawnee Native American tribes, and the Chinese migrants who toiled on its path. In this meticulously researched book, Manu Karuka situates the railroad within the violent global histories of colonialism and capitalism. Through an examination of legislative, military, and business records, Karuka deftly explains the imperial foundations of U.S. political economy. Tracing the shared paths of Indigenous and Asian American histories, this multisited interdisciplinary study connects military occupation to exclusionary border policies, a linked chain spanning the heart of U.S. imperialism. This highly original and beautifully wrought book unveils how the transcontinental railroad laid the tracks of the U.S. Empire.

- from the publisher


Asian Place, Filipino Nation: A Global Intellectual History of the Philippine Revolution, 1887–1912 - Nicole CuUnjieng Aboitiz | 11 March 2021

Nicole CuUnjieng Aboitiz

Asian Place, Filipino Nation: A Global Intellectual History of the Philippine Revolution, 1887–1912

11 March 2021

Nicole CuUnjieng Aboitiz

Research Fellow, Clare Hall, University of Cambridge; Executive Director, Toynbee Prize Foundation

with responses by Greg Blue (UVic History Emeritus) and Sujin Lee (UVic Pacific and Asian Studies)


The Philippine Revolution of 1896–1905, which began against Spain and continued against the United States, took place in the context of imperial subjugation and local resistance across Southeast Asia. Yet scholarship on the revolution and the turn of the twentieth century in Asia more broadly has largely approached this pivotal moment in terms of relations with the West, at the expense of understanding the East-East and Global South connections that knit together the region’s experience. Asian Place, Filipino Nation reconnects the Philippine Revolution to the histories of Southeast and East Asia through an innovative consideration of its transnational political setting and regional intellectual foundations.

Nicole CuUnjieng Aboitiz charts turn-of-the-twentieth-century Filipino thinkers’ and revolutionaries’ Asianist political organizing and proto-national thought, scrutinizing how their constructions of the place of Asia connected them to their regional neighbors. She details their material and affective engagement with Pan-Asianism, tracing how colonized peoples in the “periphery” of this imagined Asia—focusing on Filipinos, but with comparison to the Vietnamese—reformulated a political and intellectual project that envisioned anticolonial Asian solidarity with the Asian “center” of Japan. CuUnjieng Aboitiz argues that the revolutionary First Philippine Republic’s harnessing of transnational networks of support, activism, and association represents the crucial first instance of Pan-Asianists lending material aid toward anticolonial revolution against a Western power. Uncovering the Pan-Asianism of the periphery and its critical role in shaping modern Asia, Asian Place, Filipino Nation offers a vital new perspective on the Philippine Revolution’s global context and content.

- from the publisher

book cover of Asian Place, Filipino Nation

Watch the talk

Asian Place, Filipino Nation: A Global Intellectual History of the Philippine Revolution, 1887–1912

Waves Across the South: A New History of Revolution and Empire - Sujit Sivasundaram | 8 April 2021

Sujit Sivasundaram

Professor, Faculty of History; Fellow, Gonville and Caius College; Director, Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge

with responses by Renisa Mawani (University of British Columbia Sociology) and John Rogers (American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies)


This is a story of tides and coastlines, winds and waves, islands and beaches. It is also a retelling of indigenous creativity, agency, and resistance in the face of unprecedented globalization and violence. Waves Across the South shifts the narrative of the Age of Revolutions and the origins of the British Empire; it foregrounds a vast southern zone that ranges from the Arabian Sea and southwest Indian Ocean across to the Bay of Bengal, and onward to the South Pacific and the Tasman Sea. As the empires of the Dutch, French, and especially the British reached across these regions, they faced a surge of revolutionary sentiment. Long-standing venerable Eurasian empires, established patterns of trade and commerce, and indigenous practice also served as a context for this transformative era. In addition to bringing long-ignored people and events to the fore, Sujit Sivasundaram opens the door to new and necessary conversations about environmental history, the consequences of historical violence, the legacies of empire, the extraction of resources, and the indigenous futures that Western imperialism cut short. The result is nothing less than a bold new way of understanding our global past, one that also helps us think afresh about our shared future.

- University of Chicago Press, 2021

book cover of Waves Across the South: A New History of Revolution and Empire

Watch the talk

Waves Across the South: A New History of Revolution and Empire

Dr. Bose was on sabbatical during this period, but did organize one GSC event:

Development and Entrepreneurship in the Global South

Worldliness, World Systems & World History

Inclusive of contributions by scholars across disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, this year’s seminar series investigates the current state of world history and approaches to globalization through re-appraisals of older debates in the field, such as the Great Divergence and historiographical concerns around Europe’s role in the industrial revolution, as well as new considerations of globalization from critical interpretations of the idea of the Muslim world, the links between recent iterations of global history writing and studies of world literature, the role of guns in the Industrial Revolution, the context of security and terror in the Americas, new studies of debt and finance in Islamic Southeast Asia, and the nature of South-South relations between Asia and Latin America within new global histories. All cohere within a conversation about the nature of globalization and the various worlds and types of worldliness that are generated from diverse disciplinary and political perspectives. 

2018/19 Talks and events:

Beyond the "Great Divergence" Debate: What Have We Learned About the Origins of Modern Economic Growth? - Ken Pomeranz | 5 Sept 2018

Ken Pomeranz

Beyond the “Great Divergence” Debate: What Have We Learned About the Origins of Modern Economic Growth?

September 5, 2018

Kenneth Pomeranz

Professor of Modern Chinese History, University of Chicago


The last 20 years have seen a new burst of interest in understanding when, where, and why sustained per capita income growth began – and, with that, in why Northwestern Europe became the first center of that growth.  A series of systematic comparisons with East Asia and – to a lesser extent – South Asia – have suggested that this divergence happened later and more suddenly than we used to think, and cast doubt on some widely-believed explanations,  No new consensus has yet been reached, but the range of disagreement about many of the relevant issues -- systems of property rights, environmental factors, the role of warfare, and colonization, and the relationship of science to early industrialization – has narrowed considerably, placing both European and East Asian history in a new, more truly global perspective.

Watch the talk

Beyond the "Great Divergence" Debate: What Have We Learned About the Origins of Modern Economic Growth?

Angles on Asia in the World: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Globalization and Asia - Panel discussions | 6 Sept 2018


Globalization, Global, and World: History, Literary Criticism, and Spaces of the Present - Workshop | 7 Sept 2018

Is the world imagined by literary critics working on “world literature” equivalent to the globe of global historians? What are the current links between recent iterations of global history and explorations of world literature? Those who traffic in concepts of ‘world literature’ are frequently conducting their analysis with limited, or distant readings of historians who scale and debate the “global,” as a method, or as a point of empirical analysis within the historical discipline. Furthermore, many historians writing “global history” today frequently conduct their research without a detailed reading of the stakes offered by scholars of “world literature” and associated debates about terms such as “world,” “global,” and “comparative” inside of contemporary debates in literary and cultural studies.

Through an emphasis on world-making narratives, violence in global history, translations, and decol- onizations, this one-day workshop explores how these two intimately connected sub-disciplinary formations relate in the present, keeping in mind ethical obligations for writing world literature or global history today.

view the workshop program and resulting publication:



India After World History: Literature, Comparison, and Approaches to Globalization (2022).

Islam, Law, and the State in the Modern World - Panel discussions | 28 Nov 2018


Arif Jamal (National University of Singapore, Law)

Victor V. Ramraj (CAPI Director and Law Chair)

Commentaries by:
Cemil Aydin (University of North Carolina History)
Amal Ghazal (Simon Fraser University History)
Neilesh Bose (UVic History)

Response by author


Listen to the discussion:

(panel starts at 9:15)

Reflection on the discussion

By Nico Bernardi, UVic Law JD candidate

Despite the finality of the written word, Arif Jamal’s book, Islam, Law and the Modern State has ignited provocative and ongoing conversation since its April 2018 publication date. In late November, an engaging panel discussion highlighted the themes of justice, liberalism and plurality interwoven throughout the book.

Owing to differences in economic power, socio-political conditions, structural institutions and interpretational differences, Jamal noted the great deal of plurality both within societies generally as well as the Muslims communities therein. Through his deliberate use of the contentious word ‘liberal’, Jamal hoped to recover a former, more capacious understanding of the term, one that similarly reflects the pluralistic capacity of the Muslim context which it was used to describe.

Global historian, Cecil Aydin suggested that Jamal’s work should inspire ongoing scholarship on global history. In so doing, this new evidence would, according to Aydin, bolster Jamal’s argument, particularly the roots of global liberal values.

Muslim scholar Amal Ghazal described the book as a successful linking of heritage with experience and terminology. From this point of historical inquiry, she argued the book should be a catalyst for a contemporary project exploring ways in which liberalism and the notion of justice-as-discourse persist in today’s Arab world.  

For South Asian historian Neilesh Bose, Jamal’s deliberate use of the term ‘liberalism’ prompted considerations of racialization, colonialism and global capitalism alongside the modern Muslim ethos. The term liberalism, if used historically, must also be understood within the histories of capitalism in order to avoid falling into the trap of triumphalism. Additionally, to Bose, the South Asian references peppered throughout the book helped to create a space to better understand the Muslim world and its relation to opposing and overlapping themes such as faith, state power, neutrality and moral traditions.

It seems that the ongoing questions posed by these three scholars accurately capture “unending conversation” that Jamal sought to incite with his book. Evidently, the loaded term ‘liberal’ has a history fraught with power-dynamics. However, it was with great delight that Jamal responded to the panelists’ thoughtful comments and questions on this topic. He seemed to relish the opportunity to delve into liberal theory in Islam, using justice as ever-present point of reference.

Placing these topics squarely on the table, Islam, Law and the Modern State clearly invited discussion, support and insight from a plurality of different, equally enthusiastic perspectives at the CAPI conference, Islam, Law and the Modern State. However, it seems the conversation should not, and will not stop there. Jamal’s illuminating use of Muslim contexts serves as an “inspirational nugget” for ongoing discussions related to issues around contemporary liberalism in Muslim society and beyond.


Cemil Aydin (University of North Carolina History)

Kathy Chan (UVic Law)

Commentaries by:
Arif Jamal (National University of Singapore Law)
Megan Robb (University of Pennsylvania Religious Studies)
Ali Qadir (University of Tampere, Finland, New Social Research)

Response by author


Listen to the discussion:

(panel starts at 6:15)

Reflection on the discussion

By Nico Bernardi, UVic Law JD candidate

In The Idea of the Muslim World, author Cemil Aydin challenges the tensions between essentialism and individualism. Alongside an epic historical narrative of the “Muslim world”, Aydin manages to simultaneously expunge the myth of unified ‘Muslimless’. As Panelist Chair Professor Kathy Chan eloquently reminds us, “nuance itself is sacred”. As such, Aydin’s rejection of a monoism offers Muslims the opportunity to unlearn, self-reflect and disabuse themselves of any simplified notion of Islam they may have.

From her perspective as a social and cultural historian, Megan Robb’s key takeaways from this book related to race, religion and status. From the racialization of empire to the emergence of categories of world religion, she appreciated how Aydin used the grand narrative of an eternal conflict between the Western and Muslim worlds to explore how parties form relations across time and space. According to Robb, a natural and refreshing follow-up to Aydin’s work would be a similar deconstruction of the Western world and its racial and religious implications.

For the Muslim world to come into existence, both the terms Muslim and World had to be constructed. For Ali Qadir, the book helped to flesh out the story of those particular constructs. The parts excluded from the Muslim world, in fact, represent the true repository of Muslim culture, religion and society. Thus, springboarding from his research in global and transnational sociology, Qadir suggested that Aydin’s book builds upon this category of Muslim and contributes to the “conditions of possibility” for a discourse to emerge around the differences within the Muslim world.

Aydin’s book reminds us that Islam is not a monolith. Helpfully, Professor Arif Jamal provided personal stories to affirm this. While attending a recent university conference, he noted that Halal food was marked “Muslim” Food. Among others, this example helped to illustrate the problematic outcomes, identified in Aydin’s book of unifying the Muslim identity. In fact, Jamal noted, there is in fact a great deal of “locality” in the Muslim world and applauded Aydin’s work for its ability to serve as a tool for Muslims and non-Muslims alike to debunk the myth of a singular Islam.

An important lesson from the Trumpian era is that people crave identity.  By emphasizing the importance of being historically informed as well as self-conscious to the fact that there is no single Islam, The Idea of the Muslim World powerfully provides a platform upon which Muslims can self-identify in unique and personal ways within the broader Muslim world.

Empire of Guns and the Industrial Revolution - Priya Satia | 16 Jan 2019

Priya Satia

Empire of Guns and the Industrial Revolution

16 January 2019

Pria Satiya

Professor of British History and Raymond A. Spruance Professor of International History, Stanford University

Stanford University profile


We have long understood the Industrial Revolution as a triumphant story of innovation and technology. Empire of Guns, a rich and ambitious new book by award-winning historian Priya Satia, upends this conventional wisdom by placing war and Britain’s prosperous gun trade at the heart of the Industrial Revolution and the state’s imperial expansion.

Satia brings to life this bustling industrial society with the story of a scandal: Samuel Galton of Birmingham, one of Britain’s most prominent gunmakers, has been condemned by his fellow Quakers, who argue that his profession violates the society’s pacifist principles. In his fervent self-defense, Galton argues that the state’s heavy reliance on industry for all of its war needs means that every member of the British industrial economy is implicated in Britain’s near-constant state of war.

Empire of Guns uses the story of Galton and the gun trade, from Birmingham to the outermost edges of the British empire, to illuminate the nation’s emergence as a global superpower, the roots of the state’s role in economic development, and the origins of our era’s debates about gun control and the “military-industrial complex” — that thorny partnership of government, the economy, and the military. Through Satia’s eyes, we acquire a radically new understanding of this critical historical moment and all that followed from it.

- from the publisher

empire of guns cover

Listen to the talk

Reflection on the talk

By Matthew Huijsmans, UVic History MA (thesis) student

Priya Satia is that rare historian who, having a global understanding of the nineteenth century rise of capitalist imperialism, draws upon this knowledge while investigating histories physically grounded on the British Isles through Rankian submersion in state-archives. She has painstakingly combed through the details of the seemingly obvious, but extraordinarily neglected, influence of the British state on the economic “take-off” of those isles in the immediately preceding years. Specifically, the enormous and exponentially increasing demand for war material throughout the eighteenth century as a pivotal stimulus for said industrial “take off.” Reflecting the structure of her book, Satia discussed her investigations into the seeming paradox of a Quaker gunmaker: deconstructing the western popular framing of the Quaker as benevolent, compassionate, and anti-war – mirroring the way we conceptualize the western world as an inherently moral and therefore self-justifying enterprise – while existing in a space of profound complicity with what Cedric Robinson called “racial capitalism.”

Although British state demand for guns increased throughout the eighteenth century, it was the French Revolution, and the resultant creation of the universal conscript army that forced truly prodigious increases in British military expenditure. In order to field an army of even remotely comparable size to that of the (French) Revolutionary state, it was necessary for British industry to produce the guns and material necessary for the fielding of millions of men – rather than the couple hundred thousand necessary for, say, that of the British army in the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714).

In order to meet these quantity requirements, the British State fostered specialization through the adoption of the East India Trading Company’s “Brown Bess” “model” rifle – a “rough and ready” model providing economic efficiency and enabling proto-mass production. By spreading the production of various parts of the musket throughout various industries – eg. stocks produced by furniture makers, “locks” by clockmakers, barrels by “boring” specialists, and various metal parts by “toy” makers – the British state rationalized production and ensured that massive quantities could be produced, and that they could be produced on short notice when the next war broke out.

The British state structured its gun production to draw upon all of the productive capacity of her industry rather than that of only a few gun making artisans. This “distributing” or “spreading” of production throughout various industries meant that, when a war concluded, the producers of the various parts in the new system had their own “civilian” trade they could return to. Therefore, it negated the liability of having enormous quantities of specialized gun-makers, large numbers of whom being dependent upon consistent state purchase for their livelihood. Satia notes that it was not just guns that were required, but everything necessary to feed, cloth, and transport the increasing numbers of soldiers required for a century of continental, and increasingly global wars.

In this research, Satia addresses the simultaneous centrality and invisibility of gun production in both popular memory and historiographical representation of the British Industrial Revolution – the standard tale of her “Industrial Revolution” is a “civilian” one. That is, rather than an industry revolutionized through state demand and industrial intervention for the prosecution of mass industrial warfare, the industrial revolution has been understood as a peaceful one full of “cotton factories and steam engines invented by unfettered geniuses.” This was no accident.

Adam Smith, the “founder of modern economics” was selected by the new bourgeoise cultural hegemony in the early nineteenth century to represent the “true” meaning of capitalism in the age of industrialism. However, at the time of writing The Wealth of Nations (1776) Adam Smith was not describing the reality of his society; he was projecting his vision for a desired society – a society that had as the basis of its prosperity, not the violence of industrialized warfare, but rather, a political economy of “peaceful commerce” – that is, a mythical, or, as Smith might have put it theoretical “political economy” in which, contrary to what actually existed around him, guns and war were not the basis of British industrial development. Smith was trying to imagine a society where industrial development was not dependent upon mass state demand for tools of violence. By accepting his “observations” as that rather than “imaginations” we have accepted a version of history “bowdlerized” of its violent conception for bourgeois consumption.

Satia traces this “cleansing” tendency within eighteenth and nineteenth century British society in her investigation of “the Quaker Gunmaker” – Samuel Galton. Just as guns became foundational and the production for war inescapable for much of British industry, the British Quaker Society came to the conclusion that it was objectionable for Galton to be involved in “gun making”, that is, acting as an organizer of production and assemblage of the various disparately manufactured parts. Satia asks to what extent this condemnation of Galton could have been the result of a desperate need to create moral space for themselves in an industrializing society implicated to its very foundations in the mass production for violence? And, perhaps more importantly, how does this inform our own present condition – that of the military industrial complex?

The age in which the gunmaker “morphed” in societal perception from an unremarkable tradesman to a “uniquely villainous merchant of death” was also the age in which, for collective historical memory, “pacifists abound.” (Satia, 3). However, Quaker society was deeply implicated, if not foundational to industrial warfare, colonial expansion and the scientific racism. It was from these structures of imperial violence described by Satia that John Galton’s grandson, Francis Galton, developed his infamous theory of Eugenics that sought to justify imperialism through “scientific” racial hierarchies. Drawing links between normalized societal mindsets that facilitated colonial exploitation problematizes the myth of the peaceful compassionate Quaker.

Like historian Prasannan Parthasarathi (Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not: Global Economic Divergence 1600-1850), Satia argues for the centrality of the British state in the development of the Industrial Revolution. Industrialism was not a product of laissez faire Liberalism. Liberalism was a product of the Industrial Revolution, both in its ideology of “free trade” and minimal government, and, perhaps even more importantly, in its presentation of a high-minded moral ethic which functioned as a tool for the “forgetting” of the foundational violences of bourgeois prosperity.

Security, Terror and Colonial Modernity - Eli Jelly-Schapiro | 31 Jan 2019

Eli Jelly-Shapiro

Security, Terror and Colonial Modernity

31 January 2019

Eli Jelly-Schapiro

Professor of English Language and Literature, University of South Carolina

with responses by Rachel Cleves (UVic History) and Stephen Ross (UVic English)


When in 1492 Christopher Columbus set out for Asia but instead happened upon the Bahamas, Cuba, and Hispaniola, his error inaugurated a specifically colonial modernity. This is, Eli Jelly-Schapiro contends in his new book Security and Terror, the colonial modernity within which we still live. And its enduring features are especially vivid in the current American century, a moment marked by a permanent War on Terror and pervasive capitalist dispossession. Resisting the assumption that September 11, 2001, constituted a historical rupture, Eli Jelly-Schapiro traces the political and philosophic genealogies of security and terror—from the settler-colonization of the New World to the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and beyond. A history of the present crisis, Security and Terror also examines how that history has been registered and reckoned with in significant works of contemporary fiction and theory—in novels by Teju Cole, Mohsin Hamid, Junot Díaz, and Roberto Bolaño, and in the critical interventions of Jean Baudrillard, Giorgio Agamben, Judith Butler, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, and others. In this richly interdisciplinary inquiry, Jelly-Schapiro reveals how the erasure of colonial pasts enables the perpetual reproduction of colonial culture.

- from the publisher

cover of Security and Terror

Beyond Debt: Islamic Experiments in Global Finance - Daromir Rudnyckyj/panel discussion | 4 March 2019

Daromir Rudnyckyj

Daromir Rudnyckyj (UVic Anthropology)

Commentaries by: 
Greg Blue (UVic History, Emeritus) 
Neilesh Bose (UVic History)



Book summary:

Recent economic crises have made the centrality of debt, and the instability it creates, increasingly apparent. This realization has led to cries for change—yet there is little popular awareness of possible alternatives. UVic anthropologist Daromir Rudnyckyj’s new book, Beyond Debt, describes efforts to create a transnational economy free of debt. Based on research in Malaysia, Rudnyckyj illustrates how the state, led by the central bank, seeks to make the country’s capital Kuala Lumpur the “the New York of the Muslim world”—the central node of global financial activity conducted in accordance with Islam. Rudnyckyj shows how Islamic financial experts have undertaken ambitious experiments to create more stable economies and stronger social solidarities by facilitating risk- and profit-sharing, enhanced entrepreneurial skills, and more collaborative economic action. A groundbreaking analysis of a timely subject, Beyond Debt tells the captivating story of efforts to re-center the global system in an emergent Islamic global city and, ultimately, to challenge the very foundations of conventional finance.


painting of a scene in Calcutta by James Baillie Fraser, 1826

Asian Migrations in and of the Global South

The theme for 2017-18 was Asian Migrations in and out of the Global South, including visits by David Chang, Gaiutra Bahadur, as well as a two day workshop on South Asian migrations in global history.  Within this broad rubric, discussions about the nature of Asian migrations in a variety of thematic sites, such as interactions with indigenous peoples of the Pacific, indentured labor migrations and their afterlives, and the meeting points of different spaces and arenas focused on South Asian migrants in Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceanic contexts. 

Talks and events:

Hawaiian Indians and Black Kanakas: Racial Trajectories of Native Hawaiian Diasporic Laborers in the Nineteenth Century - David Chang | Oct 12, 2017

David Chang

Hawaiian Indians and Black Kanakas: Racial Trajectories of Native Hawaiian Diasporic Laborers in the Nineteenth Century

October 12, 2017

David Chang

Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota

Bio: David Chang is an historian of indigenous people, colonialism, borders and migration in Hawaii and North America, focusing especially on the histories of Native American and Native Hawaiian people. His book The World and All the Things Upon It: Native Hawaiian Geographies of Exploration (University of Minnesota Press, 2016) speaks to a foundational imperative in Indigenous studies: the need to not just understand Indigenous people from their own perspectives, but to understand the world from their perspectives as well.

Abstract: In the maritime economy of the nineteenth century, Native Hawaiian laborers fanned out across the oceans. Some never returned home, instead settling in spots from Vancouver Island to California to New England to Tahiti. Given that race was (and remains) a structuring difference in settler colonial states and capitalist economies, what were these migrants’ experiences of race? How were they categorized by outsiders? What racialized affiliations did they make? This talk will explore the racial trajectories of these Kānaka in multiple sites. In some sites, they entered into what we would now recognize as Indigenous communities. In others, they merged into African-descent populations. In still others, they entered into the privileged status of whiteness. These differing outcomes provide glimpses into the intersections of racial, class, and national identifications. They also shed light on the early roots of what we might today call a global indigenous identity.

Conjure Women and Coolie Women - Gaiutra Bahadur | Oct. 26, 2017

Gaiutra Bahadur

Conjure Women and Coolie Women

October 26, 2017

Gaiutra Bahadur

Bio: Gaiutra Bahadur is a Guyanese-American writer. She is the author of Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture, a narrative history of indenture which was shortlisted in 2014 for the Orwell Prize, the British literary prize for political writing that is artful. She has won residencies and fellowships for creative nonfiction from the MacDowell Artists Colony, Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy, the British Library, the British Society of Authors, the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Abstract: The author of Coolie Woman, a narrative history about indentured women, discusses researching and narrating the lives of subjects missing, at least in their own words, from the archives. She speaks on the possibilities of the personal, as well as alternative oral and visual sources, as strategies for navigating elisions and biases in the written record.

South Asian Migrations in Global History - Workshop | Oct. 27-28, 2017

About the workshop:

From as close as California and Oregon and as far away as Germany and the U.K., historians, sociologists, anthropologists, legal scholars, archivists, and independent scholars - all specialists of South Asian migration studies in some fashion - gathered for three days of comparative discussion of the ranges of meanings and historical processes behind categories such as “native,” “indigenous,” and “immigrant.” Participants offered original research on the movement and settlement of South Asian peoples beyond the subcontinent from the nineteenth century to the present via thematic explorations of colonialism, empire, surveillance, capitalism, globalization, labor, and the family. Scholars grappled with a multiplicity of regions, including South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Guyana, the Caribbean, California, the Canadian west coast, Victoria, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and the Himalayas. The participants combined their work into a single volume for publication.

book cover - South Asian Migrations in Global History

South Asian Migrations in Global History (2020).

Out of India: East Africa and its South Asian Diasporas

Sana Aiyar

Sana Aiyar

Associate Professor of History, MIT

Abstract: Where does the Indian diaspora belong? This is a question of historical and historiographical concern. Mapping on to one another, nationalist histories, and their historiographical doppelgangers, drew boundaries around the question of belonging, as Indian citizenship was defined territorially and singularly in 1947. Jawaharlal Nehru urged over a million Indians living overseas at the time to consider their adopted hostlands their “home”, making it clear that the diaspora belonged elsewhere and not in India. Yet he reminded Indians that they were “guests of the Africans”, a trope picked up by nationalists in East Africa to emphasize the extent to which Indians were outsiders and did not belong there. Diasporic mobility similarly created an analytical dilemma for historiographical approaches to the study of the Indian diaspora as the area-studies framework focused the gaze of historians within the territorial boundaries of South Asia and East Africa. South Asian diasporas rarely featured in these works. Over the last five years, however, important new works that put Indians in East Africa at the center of their studies on empire, nationalism, race, and community have been published in rapid succession. Together, they point to a significant new historiographical shift that brings together South Asian, African, and diaspora studies that is equally attentive to local and transnational dynamics. They chart new geographies, scales, and discourses of belonging, all of which constitute diasporic consciousness. My paper surveys the interventions and new perspectives offered in these works. Moving beyond the trope of the Indian in East Africa as an exploitative trader, this essay remaps the diaspora as having multiple sites of belonging that were invoked in languages of claim making in political discourse.

The irony of open borders: mobility, citizenship and ethnicity in contemporary Himalayan South Asia

 Sara Shneiderman

Sara Shneiderman

Associate Professor of Anthropology and School of Public Policy and Global Affairs/Co-Director of the Centre for India and South Asia Research (CISAR), University of British Columbia

Abstract: In this era of travel bans and renewed populist nationalism, arguments for open borders and global citizenship appear ever more compelling. Yet the actual effects of open borders on framework for inclusive citizenship and sovereignty from below may not always be as imagined. Drawing upon my ongoing ethnographic research in two different contexts—the movement for an independent state of Gorkhaland in the Darjeeling district of India’s state of West Bengal, and the Madheshi regionalist movement for full citizenship in Nepal—I argue that the political-historical reality of the postcolonial open border between Nepal and India has yielded unexpected results. In both contexts, members of marginalized communities are unable to gain full recognition from the state in which they are born, due to ethno-racialized frameworks for regulating citizenship, which in turn curtail formal political agency. I ask: in such contexts, how how do the experiences of both those who negotiate multiple citizenships (simultaneously or sequentially) and those who possess no citizenship (de facto stateless people), complicate state-promoted narratives of singular citizenship and nationalist belonging, yielding their own forms of political action? How have global discourses of indigeneity and marginality worked to counter neocolonial forms of cultural imperialism, challenging nationalist claims to territory through locally-emergent social movements? Finally, I consider what it means to examine these questions within non-diasporic contexts of regular regional mobility across land borders, where many of the received analytical frameworks for understanding the histories, politics, and socialities of settler colonialism and trans-oceanic migration may not apply.

Unsettling Citizenship: Race, Security and Afro-Asian Politics in Contemporary Uganda

Anneeth Kaur Hundle

Anneeth Kaur Hundle

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, UC Merced

Abstract: This position paper will explore my original research and book manuscript on the politics of multi-racial citizenship, Afro-Asian relations, community-building, and South Asian political practice and political subjectivity in the context of both decolonizing and neoliberal political processes in contemporary Uganda. In the paper, I will address the significance of working through the Ugandan case study in the broader East African, African, and Indian Ocean contexts. Indeed, in doing so, I ethnographically “trace” the conceptual and ideological underpinnings of, and everyday uses of, liberal citizenship and its failure in the Ugandan postcolony. Exploring and reassessing the 1972 expulsion of Asians from Uganda in 1972 as a “critical event” (Das 1997)—as well as an unresolved historical event for both indigenous and migrant/settler-subject communities—I argue for the importance of an analytics of citizenship, race and security in postcolonial Uganda (and indeed, in African postcolonies with plural, multi-racial communities that cannot be understood in the context of formal inclusion for minority communities in liberal multicultural democracies like South Africa). Utilizing ethnographic fieldwork and life history narratives from Kampala, Uganda and other small towns in the country, I examine the development of “flexible securitization” practices among new and old South Asian communities in the context of ongoing nation-building processes, arguing for the importance of studying South Asian political practice in East Africa in relation to ongoing practices of decolonization and democratization in the region. Finally, I hope to use this case study to contribute to the discussion of South Asian migration in broader, global perspective.

Indian Anticolonialism, State Surveillance, and Decolonial Epistemologies in North America, 1907-1920

Seema Sohi

Seema Sohi

Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies, University of Colorado-Boulder

Abstract: This paper will trace the anticolonial politics of Indian migrants in North America during the early decades of the twentieth century. Drawing from imperial archives, U.S. state records, and Indian anticolonial writings that emanated from a North American context, I will examine strands of anticolonial politics and the severe repression such politics generated amongst U.S., British, and Canadian officials. Taken together, Indian anticolonial writings constitute a critical archive that interrogates race, empire, and modernity. I examine these writings as analytical forms of knowledge production to argue that a significant, and heretofore largely unexamined, component of Indian radical anticolonialism was its decolonial epistemologies. In other words, while clearly anticolonial in that it was taking a stand against colonialism, Indian radical anticolonialism was also an epistemic and political decolonial project that elucidated modernity’s racial underpinnings and contested the epistemological hegemony of the West. Though deeply rooted in the politics of an anticolonial movement that demanded self-government and the eradication of British rule in India, these activists also contested the racialized foundations of empire, a critique that brought them under the scrutiny of state authorities and made them a critical part of early South Asian American history and the histories of global anticolonialism, immigrant exclusion, and state surveillance in the early twentieth century.

Some Bhang, a Rape and a Killing: Everyday Violence and Anti-Colonial Imaginings in the Ghadar Movement in Colonial India, January 1915

Gajendra Singh

Gajendra Singh

Lecturer of South Asian History, University of Exeter

Abstract: In Lahore, on the 26th April 1915, a trial began of 81 individuals for their connection to the Ghadar Movement. It was one of the first of a long list of prosecutions that were to take place in India, Burma, Canada and the United States. The Ghadar Movement served, in the Anglo-American imagination, as the missing link between anti-imperial violences in India, Ireland and Egypt and the ideologies of Anarchism, Bolshevism and Pan-Islamism. The dangers Ghadar posed required extraordinary measures. The Lahore trial was the first in a series of ‘Conspiracy Cases’ in British India that suspended ordinary jurisprudence. Guilt was assumed; it was innocence which had to be proven.

The near certainty of successful prosecutions made the Lahore trial a process of constructing a narrative of events rather than proving guilt. And, in that narrative of events relatively inconsequential crimes could become treason as long as it was shown that the participants were one step removed from an identifiable Ghadari.

This paper will focus on one such event – the Sahnewal dacoity on 23rd January 1915. It involved several men who killed and robbed a village moneylender, assaulted his wife and collectively raped his daughter-in-law. The paper will analyse how this relatively minor event could be used to construct revolutionary criminality and revolutionary consciousness in India during the First World War. It will explore the bodily violences committed at Sahnewal as a way of reading into the alternative consciousnesses of the rebel, and not-so-rebel, Ghadari.

The Radical East Indians of Oregon

Johanna Ogden

Johanna Ogden

Independent Historian

Abstract: I will explore two inter-related themes that I believe are critical to understanding the rise of the radical nationalist Ghadar Party and its 1913 formation in Oregon.

First, East Indians were overwhelming laborers in North America.  As such, they were immersed in the working class politics of the day, whether by choice or as exclusionist targets.  Mainstream working class political organizations in the North American West, as part of a global movement, were central to the spread and enforcement of white right.  Yet East Indians, overwhelmingly laborers, were propelled into radicalism – against their racial targeting and colonized status – in exactly this milieu.  I will explore the synergy and unexpected consequences in settler colonies between the time’s endemic racism and the greatest extension of democratic rights to those defined as white.  Ghadar was, in a way, East Indians’ claim to the heart of whiteness – the right to self-rule and democratic rights. Secondly, early political leaders in Oregon argued for a specific form of – as DuBois described the times –the white religion.  Rooted in western post-Civil War politics, and honed with Chinese migrants, Oregon’s racial policy presented as racial tolerance and opposition to communal ethnic violence.  In reality it was a policy of racial supremacy crafted to foster particular business and state interests.  And yet, Oregon leaders inadvertently created safer conditions for East Indian organizing, including the state’s possible riffs with federal agencies targeting Asian migrants and radicals.

Community Archives in the Digital Era: Building the South Asian American Digital Archive

Samip Mallick

Samip Mallick

Executive Director, South Asian American Digital Archive/SAADA

Abstract: For the last nine years, SAADA (the South Asian American Digital Archive) has been collecting and sharing stories and archival materials related to the diverse history of South Asians in the United States. The archive, which now makes accessible more than 3,000 unique items, includes historical photographs, newspaper clippings, correspondence, flyers, community publications, and other ephemera, as well as video, oral history interviews, and born digital materials. Through community storytelling initiatives such as the First Days Project and Road Trips Project, SAADA creates digital spaces for sharing the lived experiences of South Asian Americans. And through Tides, SAADA’s online magazine, public events and presentations, and other outreach efforts, the organization seeks to raise awareness about South Asian American history both within the community and amongst the general public. In addition to sharing more about SAADA’s digital post-custodial model, this presentation will address three questions: 1. How a post-custodial community-based approach challenges traditional conceptualizations of the role of the archive; 2. The potential benefits and limitations related to a digital-only approach to building a community archives; 3. Exploring how community archives like SAADA can understand and measure their affective impact on the communities they serve.

Tripping on Pavements: Possessive / Possessed Inclusion and Settler Migrations

Davina Bhandar

Davina Bhandar

Co-Director Centre for Policy Studies on Culture and Communities and Adjunct Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies

Abstract: There is a particular form of haunting that takes place when writing, investigating and examining the internal logics of family history. This haunting is both a monstrous exhumation of past wrongs and rights that have been somewhat buried from view and others are the spritely ghosts that can no longer be repressed. To often the writing in of minority histories comes at a cost of understanding in full detail the apparatus that has hidden, organized or produced this knowledge from coming to light. The language surrounding a community’s self discovery or how to engage with a past that can easily be re-invented, appropriated or celebrated. What are the methods, practices and forms of constitutive knowledges  that are taking place in the discovery, collection, creation of South Asian diaspora histories in the context of British Columbia? How are communities being recreated in this process? I seek to examine the relationship between projects of South Asian data collection in British Columbia and how what I call a logic of possessive inclusion functions.

The (Im)possibility of a Politics of Belonging: Historical Traces of Sikh Women Workers in the Movement between Punjab and BC

Bikrum Singh Gill

Bikrum Singh Gill

Research Fellow, International Politics, University of Aberystwyth

Abstract: The province of British Columbia has been fundamentally shaped by racialized and gendered technologies of violence through which particular forms of labour have been rendered invisible.  There remains insufficient awareness, however, of both the impact that such foundational violence has had upon those consigned to such invisibility, and how the world-making response of such “marginalized” subjects has been essential to creating the liveability of British Columbia.  This presentation aims to foreground such “historical traces” of the marginalized by engaging the ongoing history of Sikh women working in hotels and factories in Victoria, and will particularly try to locate both how they have been impacted by, and have in turn impacted, the “historical geography” of movement and place between Punjab and BC.  It thus constitutes an accounting of the intersection of race, gender, and class in the formation of both subjects and place, as well as thinking about how such categories are subverted.

Security, Rights and the Postcolonial State: Indian Laborers’ View from the Persian Gulf

Andrea Wright

Andrea Wright

Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, William and Mary

Abstract: In this paper, I use archival and ethnographic materials to explore shifting legal engagements with the discourse of consent and how it is mobilized in regards to the treatment of migrant laborers. I look at how consent became instrumental in shaping colonial and contemporary labor mobilities, and I examine how the rights of individuals were structured as secondary to the security of the nation-state. Beginning with nineteenth century legal debates in England around the consent of Indian indentured laborers, I find legal debates concerning workers’ ability to freely consent motivated policies, contracts, and bureaucratic structures. In the colonial period, a focus on consent was meant to ensure that Indian indentured workers were traveling of their own “free will” and with a “knowledge of their [future] labor conditions.” This legacy of consent continued in the postcolonial moment and informed how bureaucrats in the nascent Indian nation-state envisioned the state’s obligations to citizens abroad.

Today, the consent of workers continues to be a key factor in labor migration, but it is increasingly tempered with rhetoric of the security of the state. In the twentieth century, as the oil industry in the Persian Gulf became increasing important to the geopolitical security of the British Empire, the mechanisms used to move indentured laborers throughout the British Empire were re-invigorated to move Indian laborers to the Gulf. I find routes excavated by the movement of slaves and indentured labor were refashioned to move Indians to work in the oilfields because Indians were seen as apolitical. I argue the structures used to move Indian workers in conjunction with a rhetoric of insecurity meant that the rights of workers were actively curtailed while simultaneously framed as consensual.

Normalizing the Arabian Peninsula within comparative approaches to labor migration

Neha Vora

Neha Vora

Normalizing the Arabian Peninsula within comparative approaches to labor migration

Abstract: In order to accommodate corporations and alleviate nativist concerns, global immigration trends seems to be shifting towards temporary labor regimes: many countries, for example, have relaxed immigration laws and/or created new categories of migrants that cannot threaten “national identity” by demanding the rights afforded to citizens. These exceptions could be considered counter to the liberal and democratic claims of most Western and postcolonial nation-states, and resemble to a large extent the “kafala” system of migrant sponsorship that is prevalent in the Gulf Arab states, where I have been conducting research for a decade. However, I have found that the Gulf migration literature has not been utilized to reflect on other parts of the world precisely because of these claims—the exceptionalism and sensationalism through which the region’s economy, culture, demography, politics, labor exploitation, and urbanism are viewed in contrast to other parts of the world all combine to make it seem impossible to compare the Arabian Peninsula to anywhere else.

How might de-exceptionalizing the Gulf lead to better understandings of global labor migration? This is the entry point into my new research project, which considers the trajectories of Indian students-to-workers in the US. The wealthiest group of migrants, Indians also have the fastest growing rate of undocumented status. My Gulf-based expertise brings a different perspective to their everyday lives of migration, education, labor, race, and precarity that can help to explain such a paradox, which highlights larger trends in what I call “illiberal” immigration practices in the contemporary world.

Yoga as Politics: An Alternative History - Sunila Kale and Christian Novotzke | Nov. 23, 2017

Sunila Kale

Christian Lee Novetzke

Yoga as Politics: An Alternative History

November 23, 2017

Sunila Kale and Christian Novotzke 

Bios: Sunila S. Kale is Associate Professor in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle, where her teaching and research focus on Indian politics, political economy of development, energy studies, and yoga as a political idea. Her first book, Electrifying India, was published by Stanford University Press in 2014.

Christian Lee Novetzke is Professor of South Asia Studies, Religious Studies, and International Studies at the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington.  His most recent book is The Quotidian Revolution (Columbia University Press, 2016)

Abstract: From the earliest ideas of yoga in the Rg Veda about 3500 years ago to the creation of International Yoga Day in 2015, the practice of yoga has involved not only spiritual and physical pursuits, but also the more mundane world of politics. In our talk, we explore an alternative story of yoga that sees how and when it has been a tool for negotiating politics, in particular the relationship between the self and society.  Our story moves through four key moments: yoga’s origins in the Vedic period (c. 1500 BCE), its articulation in the Bhagavad Gita (c. 100 BCE), the revival of yoga as politics in the nationalist period (c. 1900s), and its newest uses in contemporary India. Does yoga offer a political idea within this long history? Our talk will explore this question.

The Tabula Rogeriana, drawn by Al-Idrisi in 1154

Religion and Globalization

Including visits by Dr. Nile Green, Dr. Smriti Srinivas, Dr. Sam Moyn, Dr. Mayanthi Fernando, and Dr. Susannah Heschel. Within this broad rubric, discussions around the migration and transmission of Islam across regions in the modern world, the relationship between the politics of Islam and secularism in contemporary France, the intersection of urban history, religion, and globalization, contemporary links between human rights and religion, and the role of Orientalism in global histories of religion will ensue within the framework of understanding globalization in history.


Islam, Religious Economy, and Globalization - Nile Green | Oct. 27-28, 2016

Nile Green

Islam, Religious Economy, and Globalization

October 27-28, 2016

Nile Green

Professor of History, University of California, Los Angeles

Nile Green is a historian of the multiple globalizations of Islam and Muslims. His writings span the domains of global, social, religious, cultural and literary history. His most recent book, The Love of Strangers, reconstructs the beginning of modern Muslim-European exchange by following the first Middle Eastern students to study in Europe. Earlier books have explored such broad topics as the emergence of industrialized religious economies in the nineteenth century Indian Ocean, Atlantic and Pacific; the world history of Sufism; the making of the world’s largest Muslim community in India/Pakistan; and the Muslim soldiers of the British Empire. His current work explores how both Muslim and European liberal intellectuals overlooked the rise of Islamism in their midst.

Public Lecture: “The Making of Muslim Evangelism: Islam in the Religious Marketplace from America to Japan”
Thursday Oct. 27, 2016
Seminar: “Religious Economy and Global History”
Friday Oct. 28

Nile Green 2015. “Buddhism, Islam and the Religious Economy of Colonial Burma. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 46: 175-204.

Nile Green. 2015. “Introduction” in Green, N. Terrains of Exchange: Religious Economies of Global Islam. Oxford University Press, 1-40.

“The Making of Muslim Evangelism: Islam in the Religious Marketplace from America to Japan”

This lecture traces how interactions between Christian missionaries and Muslim religious entrepreneurs led to the foundation of Muslim evangelical organizations. Drawing on case studies from India, the United States, and Japan between the early 19th and mid-20th century, the lecture uses the model of religious economy to analyze the innovative and adaptive methods by which Muslim religious entrepreneurs formed new organizations of ultimately global reach. Focusing on print technology and missionary organization, it shows how these new Muslim ‘religious firms’ were new hybrid organizations that represent typical products of the Islamic experience of globalization.

The Making of Muslim Evangelism: Islam in the Religious Marketplace from America to Japan

Cities, Utopias, and Theosophy - Smriti Srinivas | Nov. 17-18, 2016

Smriti Srinivas

Cities, Utopias, and Theosophy

November 17-18, 2016

Smriti Srinivas

Professor, UC-Davis, Anthropology

Smriti Srinivas is professor of anthropology at the University of California, Davis. Her research interests include South Asia and Indian Ocean worlds,religion, cities and urbanism. utopias, cultures of performance, the body. She is the author of Landscapes of Urban Memory: The Sacred and the Civic in India’s High-Tech City, (2003) and In the Presence of Sai Baba: Body, City, and Memory in a Global Religious Movement, (2008) as well as A Place for Utopia: Urban Designs from South Asia (2015).

Public Lecture: “The Garden and the City: Urban Designs, Theosophy and South Asia”
Thursday Nov. 17, 7:30 pm, Legacy Art Gallery
Seminar: “Cities of the Past, Cities of the Present, and the City as Utopia”
Friday Nov. 18, 10:30 am, Sedgwick C168

Smriti Srinivas. 2015. “Introduction: Placing Timelines” in Srinivas, S. A. ed. Place for Utopia: Urban Designs from South Asia. Seattle: University of Washington Press. 1-10.

Smriti Srinivas. (with Mary Hancock). 2008. “Spaces of modernity: Religion and the urban in Asia and Africa” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 32 (3): 617-630.

“The Garden and the City: Urban Designs, Theosophy and South Asia”

This lecture explores how gardens or urban greens have been imagined and produced in cities. I focus, in particular, on the Theosophical Society in its international headquarters in Madras [Chennai] in south India, and the ways in which it nurtured a specific context for South Asian garden design. Theosophy—a unique example of religious transculturalism that bridged South Asia, Europe, and North America—has received detailed attention: on the one hand, its articulation of religion with ideas of race, nation, or gender bore a complex relationship to imperial legacies; on the other hand, its foregrounding of spiritualist cosmologies inspired critiques of them.  In my talk, I turn to an occluded aspect of Theosophy’s history: its role in spatial production in South Asia and what may be thought of as the utopian dimensions of green spaces.

Christian Human Rights - Sam Moyn | Jan. 26-27, 2017

Sam Moyn

Christian Human Rights

January 26-27, 2017

Sam Moyn

Professor of Law and History, Harvard University

Samuel Moyn is Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law and Professor of History at Harvard University. His areas of interest in legal scholarship include international law, human rights, the law of war, and legal thought, in both historical and current perspective. In intellectual history, he has worked on a diverse range of subjects, especially twentieth-century European moral and political theory. He has written several books in his fields of European intellectual history and human rights history, including The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (Harvard University Press, 2010), and edited or coedited a number of others. His new book, based on Mellon Distinguished Lectures at the University of Pennsylvania in fall 2014, is Christian Human Rights (2015).

Public Lecture: “Christian Human Rights”
Thursday Jan. 26, 7:30 pm, David Turpin A102
Seminar: “Human Rights and History”
Friday Jan. 27, 11:00 am, Law Library, Room 265

Stefan Ludwig-Hoffman. 2016. “Human Rights and History,” Past and Present 232 (1): 279-310.

Sam Moyn. 2016. “The End of Human Rights History,” Past and Present 232 (1): 1-16.

“Christian Human Rights”

Most people today associate human rights with the secular progressive cause. This talk looks at how, in European history in the middle of the twentieth century, the Christian right made a critical contribution. Based on a new book of the same name, the talk argues that human rights were valuable as the European right moved beyond authoritarian reaction as World War II was won by the Allies, and the threat of a secular socialist left arose in postwar party politics. Human rights rhetoric emerged from the top of ecclesiastical hierarchies, and new kinds of center right Christian political parties rose championing ideas like human dignity and human rights.

“Christian Human Rights”

Islam, France, and Secularism - Mayanthi Fernando | Feb. 9-10, 2017

Mayanthi Fernando

Islam, France, and Secularism

February 9-10, 2017

Mayanthi Fernando

Professor of Anthropology, UC-Santa Cruz

Mayanthi Fernando is the author of The Republic Unsettled: Muslim French and the Contradictions of Secularism, which alternates between an analysis of Muslim French politics, ethics, and social life and the contradictions of French secularity (laïcité) that this new Muslim subjectivity reflects. It argues that “the Muslim question” is actually a question about secularism. Her current work attends to the nexus of sex and religion in modern secularity, analyzing how the secular state’s project of regulating and transforming religious life is interwoven with its project of sexual normalization, i.e. the production of secular, sexually “normal” citizens.

Public Lecture: “Unpredictable Futures: Islam, Citizenship, and Political Possibility in France”
Thursday Feb. 9, 5:30 pm, MacLaurin D110
Seminar: “The Republic Unsettled: Secularism and Islam in France”
Friday Feb. 10, 10:30 am, Sedgwick C168

Mayanthi Fernando. 2014. “A Memorial to the Future,” in Fernando, M. ed. The Republic Unsettled: Muslim French and the Contradictions of Secularism. Durham: Duke University Press, 105-144.

Mayanthi Fernando. 2010. “Reconfiguring Freedom: Muslim Piety and the Limits of Secular Law and Public Discourse in France” American Ethnologist 37 (1): 19-35.

“Unpredictable Futures: Islam, Citizenship, and Political Possibility in France”

This talk examines how Muslim French – i.e. those committed to practicing Islam as French citizens and practicing citizenship as pious Muslims – negotiate a social and political world in which they are imagined, a priori, as always already not-French because they are Muslim. It explores how this impasse is not only lived but also challenged by a post-immigration generation of Muslim civic activists. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with these activists, the talk reflects on new forms of public religiosity, national citizenship, and political possibility.

Islam, Judaism, and Orientalism - Susannah Heschel | March 23-24, 2017

Susannah Heschel

Islam, Judaism, and Orientalism

March 23-24, 2017

Susannah Heschel

Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire

Susannah Heschel is an American scholar, public intellectual, and professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College. The author and editor of numerous books and articles, she is a Guggenheim Fellow and the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including four honorary doctorates. Her scholarship focuses on Jewish and Christian interactions in Germany during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Two of her major works of scholarship include Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus (1998, University of Chicago Press) and The Aryan Jesus: Christians and the Bible in Nazi Germany (2008, Princeton University Press). She has also edited, translated, and published numerous works by her father, Abraham Joshua Heschel, including Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity (1996, Farrar, Straus and Giroux) and Essential Writings of Abraham Joshua Heschel (2011, Orbis Press).

Public Lecture: “History of Jewish Scholarship on Islam: The Story of a Fascination”
Thursday Mar. 23, 4:30 pm, MacLaurin D110
Seminar: “Judaism, Orientalism, and Empire”
Friday Mar. 24, 10:30 am, Sedgwick C168

Susannah Heschel. 2014. “Constructions of Jewish Identity through Reflections on Islam,” in Caputo, N. and Sterk, A. eds. Faithful Narratives: Historians, Religions, and the Challenge of Objectivity. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 169-184.

Heschel, Susannah. 2012. “German-Jewish Scholarship on Islam as a Tool of De-Orientalization,” New German Critique 117: Fall: 91-117

“History of Jewish Scholarship on Islam: The Story of a Fascination”

“It was Islam that saved the Jewish people!” So declared the distinguished medievalist S.D. Goitein in a 1958 lecture to British Jews. His declaration culminated a long century of Jewish scholarship on Islam that not only proclaimed theological affinities between the two religions, but viewed Islam as Judaism’s protector as well. Starting with the highly acclaimed book of Abraham Geiger, Was hat Muhammad aus dem Judenthume aufgenommen?, published in 1833, which launched modern scholarship on Islamic origins, Jewish scholars in Europe became fascinated with the uncanny appearance of rabbinic texts in the Qur’an. From the 1830s to the 1930s, Jews published significant scholarship on Islam, demonstrating the parallels between Judaism and Islam. My paper will delineate the stages of Jewish scholarship and examine the role of that scholarship within the larger context of nineteenth century constructions of “religion,” its reflection of a wider culture of European imperialism, and its adoption and transformation of philological methods drawn from New Testament scholarship.

UVic seminar participants


Neilesh Bose
Neilesh Bose is the Faculty Convenor of the Global South Colloquium at the University of Victoria. A historian of modern South Asia from the eighteenth century to the present, Dr. Bose focuses on nationalism, religion, and decolonization, with a particular focus on colonial India. Additionally, he hold interests in theater, performance studies, popular culture, and diasporas in the modern world.  Publications include Recasting the Region: Language, Culture, and Islam in Colonial Bengal (Oxford, 2014), as well as articles in Modern Asian StudiesThe Journal of Colonialism and Colonial HistorySouth Asia Research, and Modern Intellectual History. An abiding interest is the relationships between local histories and global processes and formations in the making of the modern world. Dr. Bose has taught at the University of North Texas in Denton, TX, and St. John’s University in Queens, NY, before joining the University of Victoria in 2015 as Tier II Canada Research Chair in Global and Comparative History.
Marta Bashovski
Marta Bashovski is a PhD candidate in Political Science and Cultural, Social, and Political Thought at the Univeristy of Victoria. Her research brings together the study of global social movements and the politics of knowledge and language, or the politics of classification. Her dissertation, “Determinations of dissent: Protest and the politics of classification,” analyzes the conditions and effects of the framing of mass global protest movements from 2009-2013 (with specific emphasis on anti-austerity protests in southern Europe, the Occupy Wall Street movement, and protests in Brazil, Bulgaria and Turkey during the summer of 2013). Marta takes as significant the commentaries and redescriptions of these events that emerge from academic and media spaces and connects them to a longstanding politics of classifying practices of dissent, specifically in the history of modern European political thought. This approach to thinking about how protests and practices of dissent are described offers a new understanding of how the urge to classify associated with modern forms of knowledge poses conceptual limits to possibilities of dissent.
Joanna Cordeiro
Joanna Cordeiro is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science and and Cultural, Social, and Political Thought at the University of Victoria. She is interested in the broad theme of the politics of history in the field of international relations, how history shapes our political possibilities, how it is used politically and consequently who is included and excluded from history and international politics. She is particularly interested on the critical limits of historiography and international theory.
Bikrum Gill
Bikrum Gill is a Phd Candidate in the Department of Political Science at York University in Toronto and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Global Studies at the University of Victoria. He has a wide range of research interests and expertise in a variety of fields, including political economy, political ecology, international relations, development studies, critical race theory, transnational feminisms and postcolonial studies. Applying a critical approach to the study of the global dimensions of ecology, violence, conflict, inequality, migration, and poverty, Bikrum has conducted research within, and across, a variety of regions, including South Asia, East Asia, the Middle East, East Africa, North America and South America. For his PhD dissertation, Bikrum is examining the developmental implications of growing South-South linkages in the fields of agricultural investment and co-operation, with a particular focus on the involvement of the Indian state and capital in the commercialization and industrialization of agriculture in Africa.
Joel Legassie
Joel Legassie is a PhD candidate in the department of history at the University of Victoria. His research explores the colonization of Hokkaido, Japan in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with a focus on the exchange of information among Japanese, indigenous peoples and Western (primarily English and American) foreigners. Joel also works as a freelance website developer, building and maintaining sites for a variety of clients, primarily in the non-profit and academic worlds.

Neilesh Bose
The Global South Colloquium is organized by CAPI Senior Research Fellow Neilesh Bose, an Associate Professor with UVic's Department of History who holds a Canada Research Chair in Global and Comparative History.

"Global South Political Commentaries" blog, an initiative of faculty from UVic's Department of Political Science (many affiliated with CAPI)