Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Center for Contemporary South Asia

Kris Manjapra ─ Apprentice, Pauper, Coolie, Convict: Laboring Subjects and the Global Plantation Complex in the 19th Century

Friday, February 24, 2017

3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute 

Kris Manjapra is an Associate Profressor of History at Tufts University and serves as the Co-Director of the South Asia Digital Humanities Lab.

Majapra joined Tufts History Department in 2008. His research is in modern South Asian and German history, with a special interest in transnational approaches and postcolonial critical perspectives. His most recent book is Age of Entanglement: German and Indian Intellectuals across Empire, which compared and connected the rise of modernism in Germany and India in the period of British world power. 

Manjapra's work crosses national and imperial boundaries and pursues a multi-focal study of intellectual history, the history of science and scholarship, and the history of nineteenth and twentieth imperialism and international politics. He has written on anti-colonial cosmopolitanism, trajectories of Marxism, artistic and philosophical modernism, Orientalism and the politics of cross-cultural encounter.

This paper traces the global expansion of the "plantation complex" during the Age of Abolition in the British Empire.   In that period, the monumental migration of indentured laborers from Asia to the West Indies was matched by other large-scale migrations that traveled in the opposite direction: the movement of assets, capitalists, biota, and discourses about labor mobilization and labor control from the West Indies to Asia.  In the midst of these complex circulations, this paper focuses on the emerging, interconnected debates about "free labor", "penalization," and "race" that spanned the Caribbean Sea, Europe, and the Indian Ocean.  Through the study of this trans-hemispheric entanglement, the paper explores the relational ways in which Liberalism called forth new kind of post-slave laboring subjects.

Contemporary South Asia Seminar