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What did the so-called freedom of the sea look like from the decks of a migrant ship? What did this legal doctrine mean for the commerce, mobility, and aspirations of Indian migrants in the early 20th century? Renisa Mawani, Professor of Sociology, University of British Columbia, located on the unceded territories of the Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm) peoples, considers these questions by exploring how Indian colonial authorities sought to regulate the seabound movements of Indian migrants through the Ingress into India Ordinance. Focused on the lives of Gujarati Muslim merchants, this talk considers the oceanic elements of the Ingress by tracing its reach along trade networks that extended from the ports of Gujarat to the inland regions of Burma and Siam. The Ingress, Professor Mawani suggests, offered British colonial authorities one way to govern maritime movements and criminalise trade networks, devastating families and communities.
Renisa Mawani is Professor of Sociology at the University of British Columbia, located on the unceded territories of the Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm) peoples. She works in the fields of critical theory and colonial legal history and has published on law, colonialism, and legal geography. She is the author of Colonial Proximities (2009) and Across Oceans of Law (2018), which was a finalist for the UK Socio-Legal Studies Association Theory and History Book Prize (2020) and winner of the Association of Asian American Studies Book Prize for Outstanding Contribution to History (2020). With Iza Hussin, she is co-editor of The Travels of Law: Indian Ocean Itineraries (2014) and with Antoinette Burton, she is co-editor of Animalia: An Anti-Imperial Bestiary for Our Times (2020).