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In and Out of South Asia: Race, Capitalism, and Mobility

Conference Format: 


In and Out of South Asia: Race, Capitalism, and Mobility will function in a new and innovative conference format. Our panelists have submitted their video presentations for pre-conference circulation. Their video presentations can be accessed via this link.  We invite the audience to view these submissions in advance of the conference itself. On February 25-26, 2022, faculty discussants will provide mini-keynote opening and closing remarks and comments on the presentations. Audience members will then be invited to ask questions and engage with the panel. 


Event description:


How do ethnic, caste, and racial hierarchies in South Asia interact with those elsewhere as people, ideas, and goods move in and out? How are flows and networks of capital reconfigured within existing and new hierarchies of im/mobility? How might a focus on things/people/ideas that move “in and out” help us conceptualize new ways of imagining and engaging South Asia?


These questions urge us to consider mobility and immobility anew. Global pandemics, surveillance regimes, and border fences engender old and new forms of captivity and incarceration throughout South Asia. At the same time analytical and conceptual frames for studying the region have sought to break out of the gilded cage of methodological nationalism and embrace regional and transregional spatial units, such as the recent turn towards Inter Asia, Africa-Asia, and the Indian Ocean. A rich and productive scholarship has emerged from this transregional turn, providing new vocabularies for understanding polity, economy, and sociality in South Asia and beyond.


This conference brings together a set of scholars and practitioners who are thinking across scale and time to explore the particular tension between mobility and immobility in shaping conceptual and methodological itineraries in and out of South Asia. Participants explore the histories and futures of race, caste, and capitalism in South Asia and beyond. 

Meet The Team

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Jatin Dua

Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan

Jatin Dua is a socio-cultural anthropologist whose research focuses on maritime piracy in the Indian Ocean and projects and processes of governance, law, and economy along the East African coast. His book, Captured at Sea: Piracy and Protection in the Indian Ocean, published with the University of California Press (2019), is a multi-sited ethnographic and archival engagement with maritime piracy and contestations over legitimate and illegitimate commerce in coastal East Africa. His current research projects continue this emphasis on maritime worlds and their entanglements with law, sovereignty, economy, and sociality in the Indian Ocean and beyond.


Anisha Padma

Doctoral Student in Anthropology and History, University of Michigan

Anisha Padma is a doctoral student in Anthropology and History at the University of Michigan. Her research examines the multiple histories and scales of racial formation, specifically the ways in which “Africa” is central to constructions and contestations of racial identity, by engaging with Hyderabadis of Afro-Arab descent and more recent African arrivals to Hyderabad. More broadly, questions on the mobility of people and ideas and the dynamics of the hinterland and the coast animate her work. 

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Irene Promodh

Doctoral Student in Sociocultural Anthropology, University of Michigan

Irene Promodh is a doctoral student in Sociocultural Anthropology at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on the vernacular Christianities of the Indian Ocean world, particularly those practiced by dominant-caste Syriac Orthodox Christians and historically subordinated Pentecostal Christians, as they circulate between their places of work in the Arabian Peninsula and their home societies in Kerala, south India today. More broadly, she is interested in transregional mobility, the politics of caste and conversion, moral ambition and conflict, and ritual speech.


Shivalika Kohli

Junior at Penny W. Stamps, School of Art and Design, University of Michigan

Shivalika Kohli is an undergraduate majoring in Fine Art and Design and minoring in the History of Art, specializing in graphic design and painting. Through her role as a Program Assistant for the Center of South Asian Studies, she actively pursues web design and publication design as well.


Swagat Pani

Doctoral Student in Anthropology and History, University of Michigan

Swagat Pani is a doctoral student in Anthropology and History at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on regimes of mobility in the Persian Gulf and their intersections with financial technology and expertise. Swagat has a background in policy-making in international relations, and has worked for international organizations including the Middle East and West Asia Division (MEWAD) of the Department of Political Affairs at the UN headquarters in New York.

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