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Join us every other Tuesday for a virtual Connected Conversation to discuss various humanities topics with people around Idaho, both the serious and the fun. Subjects span Boise’s industrial history, history of Hawai’i, Godzilla, and even nuclear energy. These talks are typically Noon Mountain time during the summer, and 6pm Mountain Time during the winter. Each speaker talks about their topic for about 40 minutes and then will take questions. Our most recent topics looked at the Tulsa Race Massacre (formerly known as the Tulsa Race Riots), Women’s clubs in Idaho, Stonewall, and the Sandpoint Archaeological Project.

Are these recorded if I miss a topic I was interested in?

We do record our conversations! You can access our archive on the IHC website and YouTube. These recording include both the presentation and the Q&A portions. There are currently no ads added in as well.  To view these recordings, keep scrolling to the bottom of this page!

For more information, please contact Doug Exton, Program Officer (doug@idahohumanities.org).

Fleeting Agencies of Indian Coolie Women in British Malaya
Tues., Nov. 9, 2021 12:00 PM - 1 PM MT
Speaker:  Arunima Datta, Historian of South and Southeast Asia and the British Empire

Program Description:  This lecture disrupts the male-dominated narratives by focusing on gendered patterns of migration and showing how South Asian women labour migrants engaged with the process of migration, interacted with other migrants and negotiated colonial laws. This lecture is based on the recently published book Fleeting Agencies, the first study of Indian coolie women in British Malaya. In exploring the politicization of labour migration trends and gender relations in the colonial plantation society in British Malaya, the lecture foregrounds how the migrant Indian 'coolie' women manipulated colonial legal and administrative perceptions of Indian women; their gender-prescriptive roles, relations within patriarchal marriage institutions, and even the emerging Indian national independence movement in India and Malaya. All this, to ensure their survival, escape from unfavourable relations and situations, and improve their lives. In doing so, the lecture contributes to further a nuanced understanding of agency in the lives of Indian coolie women.

Bio:  Arunima Datta is a historian of South and Southeast Asia and the British Empire. Her main area of research interest focuses on the transnational mobility of South and Southeast Asians in the colonial period (nineteenth and twentieth century) across different parts of the British Empire. Much of Dr. Datta’s research has simultaneously also focused on themes of labor history, transnational histories, women’s and gender history.

Datta’s first monograph, Fleeting Agencies: A Social History of Indian Coolie Women in British Malaya, was recently published by Cambridge University Press. She has also published a number of articles and chapters, concerning South and Southeast Asian histories, labor migration and women’s histories. Her current research project is centered around the migration and mobility of South and Southeast Travelling Ayahs and Amahs (travelling nannies) across the British Empire in the nineteenth and twentieth century.

Datta also serves as a member of the editorial board and the book review editor for the journal Gender & History and is also the Associate Editor for the journal Britain and the World.

After you sign up via Eventbrite you will receive the link to the Zoom conversation via email. Here's a quick guide to getting started using Zoom.


The views expressed by our speakers do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) or the Idaho Humanities Council (IHC).

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