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My research centers on diasporic communities across the Bay of Bengal (notably British Malaya and Burma) in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, especially on the southern Chinese and Tamil working classes. More specifically, I trace coolie lives and afterlives by exploring how unfree labor systems like indenture and debt bondage shape the political languages by which diasporic subjects expressed belonging to empire, nation, and home. I am invested in intercommunal intimacies and violences generated by labor migration across the British Empire, and how everyday encounters with other migrants and indigenous persons in Indian Ocean port cities informed these communities’ relationships to and experiences of citizenship, decolonization, and Afro-Asian internationalism.
I am also an editor of Mynah, a longform print magazine devoted to telling untold Singaporean stories.
Advisor: Eric Tagliacozzo
- Southeast Asia Program