Mrinalini Sinha (Spring 2013)

Professor Mrinalini Sinha from the University of Michigan will be the spring GLASS Visiting Scholar (April 23-25, 2012).

Mrinalini Sinha is Alice Freeman Palmer Professor in the Department of History and Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature (by courtesy) at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She has written on various aspects of the political history of colonial India, with a focus on anti-colonialism, gender, and transnational approaches. She has written numerous works including the books: Specters of Mother India: The Global Restructuring of an Empire (2006) and Colonial Masculinity: The 'manly Englishman' and the 'effeminate Bengali' in the late nineteenth century (1995). She has recently become interested in the different forms of political imaginings, beyond the nation-state, that animated anti-colonial thought in India at least until the interwar period. Currently, she is a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation 2012 Fellow in the Humanities. Her Guggenheim project, with the title “Complete Political Independence: The Curious History of a Nationalist Indian Demand,” will explore the contingency of the development of the nation-state form in India.


Tuesday, April 23rd- Public Lecture:The Abolition of Indenture and the Time-Space of Global History
Academy Building, Small Auditorium
Rapenburg 67-73
Reception to Follow 
(more info)

Wednesday, April 24th - Masterclass: Writing Global Narratives: The Promise and Challenge of Different Scales of Analysis
Gravensteen, Room 11
Application deadline: April 3rd
(more info)

Thursday, April 25th - Faculty Roundtable Discussion: Asian Modernities, Global Interactions, and the Question of Gender
Gravensteen, Room 11
Pieterskerkhof 6
(more info)

Additional Materials

Her book, Specters of Mother India: The Global Restructuring of an Empire is available on reserve at the O.L.G. of the Main Library.

Specters of Mother India tells the complex story of one episode that became the tipping point for an important historical transformation. The event at the center of the book is the massive international controversy that followed the 1927 publication of Mother India, an exposé written by the American journalist Katherine Mayo. Mother India provided graphic details of a variety of social ills in India, especially those related to the status of women and to the particular plight of the country’s child wives. According to Mayo, the roots of the social problems she chronicled lay in an irredeemable Hindu culture that rendered India unfit for political self-government. Mother India was reprinted many times in the United States, Great Britain, and India; it was translated into more than a dozen languages; and it was reviewed in virtually every major publication on five continents.

Sinha provides a rich historical narrative of the controversy surrounding Mother India, from the book’s publication through the passage in India of the Child Marriage Restraint Act in the closing months of 1929. She traces the unexpected trajectory of the controversy as critics acknowledged many of the book’s facts only to overturn its central premise. Where Mayo located blame for India’s social backwardness within the beliefs and practices of Hinduism, the critics laid it at the feet of the colonial state, which they charged with impeding necessary social reforms. As Sinha shows, the controversy became a catalyst for some far-reaching changes, including a reconfiguration of the relationship between the political and social spheres in colonial India and the coalescence of a collective identity for women.

Film: BBC Documentary: Coolies: How Britain Reinvented Slavery (link)
Description: The slave trade was officially abolished throughout the British Empire in 1807. This documentary reveals one of Britain's darkest secrets: a form of slavery that continued well into the 20th century - the story of Indian indentured labour. "Coolies: How Britain Reinvented Slavery" tells the astonishing and controversial story of the systematic recruitment and migration of over a million Indians to all corners of the Empire. It is a chapter in colonial history that implicates figures at the very highest level of the British establishment and has defined the demographic shape of the modern world. Combining archive footage and historical evidence the programme includes interviews with Gandhi's great-grandaughter, Uma Dhupelia-Mesthrie, about Gandhi's campaign to end indentured labour and David Dabydeen - author and academic - whose great-grandfather was an indentured labourer in British Guyana.

Last Modified: 25-03-2013