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

AuthorDavis, Kathleen M.
PositionBook review

Mongia, Radhika. Indian Migration and Empire: A Colonial Genealogy of the Modern State. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2018. xi + 230 pages. Softcover, $24.95.

Migration remains a controversial topic. Radhika Mongia's Indian Migration and Empire: A Colonial Genealogy of the Modern State analyzes the chronicled histories of cumulative migration control that evolved into a state monopoly, and its role in state development, relationships and conflicts between nations relating to migration and economy, and state sovereignty. Further, it showcases the authority that colonial macro-level structures had on subjugating the colonized. The British Empire tediously monitored the migration of Indian laborers in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Mongia describes the influence law, technology, and bureaucracy had in shaping the expansion of a global economy based on presuppositions of race, gender, and nationality. This obstructed identities of family, marriage, and labor in such places as India, Britain, Canada, and South Africa. She starts with the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, and covers the complexity of Indian-Canadian migration in the early twentieth century, and the politics that shaped state sovereignty.

Chapter One examines the complexity of migration law from 1834 to 1917. Migration, whether forcible or through indentured servitude along with colonization, shaped labor law. The British abolished slavery in the nineteenth century, but this created a space for different forms of oppression including indentured servitude. This in turn, effected labor legislation, and evolved into a heavily-monitored and micromanaged bureaucracy that shaped transformations of the state. The author provides a timeline of the progression of labor and migration laws and analysis of different theorists and the proliferation of indentured servitude and its consequences on the state, and migrant laborers. The author linked events from slavery abolishment in Mauritius and the Caribbean, the colonization of India, economy, and politics, and the very events that shaped not only state sovereignty, but contract and labor law. While indentured servitude historically has not been viewed as horrific as slavery, Mongia reveals the marginalization and oppression of Indian emigrants. Chapter One is a good, solid review of migration law, even if a bit cumbersome at times to maneuver through the technical text.

In Chapter Two, Mongia examines the various Acts and...

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