October 2023


Online Via Zoom


Reconstructing Histories of Predation and Piracy in India's Western Littoral, c. 18th – 19th Century

Indian Ocean and Beyond: Outward Bound from Gujarat
Professor Lakshmi Subramanian Visiting Professor of History  BITS Pilani, Goa

Professor Lakshmi Subramanian

Visiting Professor of History
BITS Pilani, Goa

This talk will reflect on the ways in which maritime violence has been archived especially in the context of European interactions in the Indian Ocean. The narrative of the interactions produced not simply a discourse on predation but invested it with overtones of religious sanction. The story is also imbued with sociological and cultural features. The challenges and potential of reading such a discourse embedded in a fragmented archive of predation and reprisal will form the focus of the talk. I shall argue for an alternative reconceptualisation of social violence on the littoral, taking it out from the ambit of law and positioning it within circuits of circulation and dispossession.

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Professor Lakshmi Subramanian

Professor Lakshmi retired as Professor of History from the CSSSC, Kolkata.

Professor Subramanian has more than three decades of research and teaching experience. She has authored more than eight books and is known for her work on Indian Ocean business history and the histories of music and performance in modern South India. Recently she delivered the first D.D. Kosambi Memorial lecture at Goa University and spoke on the challenges of writing about contested pasts. She has been the recipient of several prestigious fellowships and has taught in Germany, Poland and South Africa.

Among her recent publications are Singing Gandhi's India: Music and Sonic Nationalism (New Delhi: Roli Books, 2020) and The Sovereign and the Pirate: Ordering Maritime Subjects on India's Western Littoral (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2016)