A Passport for Cecil and Other Stories: Citizenship, Migrant Geographies and (Dis)connected Histories in South and Southeast Asia, 1945 - 1965

When and Where

Thursday, February 02, 2023 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm
Jackman Humanities Building
170 St. George Street, 1st floor


Kalyani Ramnath


By way of three accounts of migration - two real and one fictional - between India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, this talk will explore anxieties over national citizenship after the end of World War II in South and Southeast Asia. Pieced together from oral history interviews, community archives, and novels in Malayalam and Tamil, these accounts show how intertwined language, race, class, and caste identities circulated and shaped migrants’ perceptions of territorial reorganizations and self-determination struggles that unfolded between 1945 and 1965 across the Indian Ocean. During this time, South Asia and Southeast Asia were created as dis(connected) regions and new national borders were drawn within those regions; these transnational histories of migration for work unsettle the scope and scale of contemporary political imaginations.

About the Lecturer:

I am a historian of modern South Asia, with research and teaching interests in legal history, histories of migration and displacement, transnational history, and questions of archival method. My first book, Boats in a Storm: Law, Migration, and Decolonization in South and Southeast Asia 1942 - 1962 is forthcoming with Stanford University Press in August 2023.

I am Assistant Professor of History at University of Georgia. I received my Ph.D. in history from Princeton University in 2018, and was a Prize Fellow in Economics, History, and Politics at the Center for History and Economics at Harvard University from 2018 - 2021. I also hold a bachelor's degree in arts and law (B.A., LL.B. (Hons.) (JD equivalent) from the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) and a master's degree in law (LL.M.) from the Yale Law School.


Centre for Diaspora & Transnational Studies


170 St. George Street, 1st floor