Organized Panel Session
Scholarship on Indian citizenship has emphasized its territorial conceptions after 1947 and the subsequent changes to the principle of jus sanguinisin recent decades. This panel seeks a different approach by shifting the focus outside of the territory of colonial and post-colonial India and ‘looking in’ to the ways in which the fate of Indians across the Indian ocean was influential to framing notions of belonging and citizenship. Based on original research and fresh interpretation of existing archives, the panelists explore the connections between colonial and post-colonial citizenship of Indians overseas in places such as Mauritius, South Africa, Israel, Burma, Sri Lanka and the Arabian Gulf. They examine both histories and technologies of citizenship to highlight the competing notions of belonging which often challenged the goals and values of the imperial and post-colonial democratic order. The invasive system of numerical population control in South Africa that reframed understandings of family, the fate of Indian Jews in Israel, laborers in Sri Lanka and settlers in Burma under new legislations and documentary control, the debates on who was an ‘Indian’ in colonial Mauritius, and the claims of citizenship rights from Indians working in the Arabian Gulf in the 1950s will illustrate the competing and often contradictory understandings of citizenship and belonging. Although approaching these issues from different spatial and temporal frames, the panel hopes to discuss comparatively the transformations, continuities and technologies of citizenship between colonial and post-colonial India.