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Indian Migration and Empire: A Colonial Genealogy of the Modern State

Venue: Birkbeck Main Building, Malet Street

In her recent book, Radhika Mongia provocatively argues that the formation of colonial migration regulations was dependent upon, accompanied by, and generative of profound changes in normative conceptions of the modern state. Focused on state regulation of colonial Indian migration between 1834 and 1917, Mongia illuminates the genesis of central techniques of migration control. She shows how important elements of current migration regimes, including the notion of state sovereignty as embodying the authority to control migration, the distinction between free and forced migration, the emergence of passports, the formation of migration bureaucracies, and the incorporation of kinship relations into migration logics, are the product of complex debates related to colonial migrations. By charting how state control of migration was critical to the transformation of a world dominated by empire-states into a world dominated by nation-states, Mongia challenges positions that posit a stark distinction between the colonial state and the modern state to trace aspects of their entanglements.

Mongia will be joined by Bridget Anderson, Luke De Noronha and Sanjay Seth to address the questions of how states came to monopolize control over migration, and what the processes that produced this monopoly tell us about the modern state.

The event will be followed by a drinks reception.

Find out more about the book here.


Radhika Mongia, York University, Toronto

Bridget Anderson, University of Bristol

Luke De Noronha, University of Manchester   

Sanjay Seth, Goldsmiths

Chair: Nadine El-Enany, Birkbeck School of Law and Centre for Research on Race and Law

Latecomers to the event are not guaranteed entry. Please be advised that photographs may be taken at the event.

Please contact us if you have any access requirements. More details of accessibility at Birkbeck venues can be found here



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