An academic at the University of Technology Sydney and the Director of its Indian Ocean and South Asia Research Network (IOSARN), Devleena Ghosh is the author of Colonialism and Modernity (2007, UNSW Press, with Paul Gillen), editor of The Cultures of Trade: Indian Ocean Exchanges (2007, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, with Stephen Muecke); Water, Sovereignty and Border in Asia and Oceania (2008, Routledge, with Goodall & Donald), and Women in Asia: Shadowlines (2010, Cambridge Scholars). She is currently working on a manuscript on informal travel between the British colonies of India and Australia in the 19th and early 20th century.
"My Name is Michelle, How May I Help You" Call Centres and the Transformation of Gender and Work Relationships in India
Friday, 21 May 2010
I examine the phenomenon of call centres in India to explore the ways in which trade and culture involve translation and negotiation of meanings, and the forging of new modes of living and being across in-between spaces. I ask, is this new work culturally empowering or exploitative? Is this an example of the ‘Empire fighting back’ that is a positive side of globalization? Or are the workers ‘cyber-coolies’, victims of corporate colonialism and homogenisation of identity; both connected and disconnected from the local and the global by the fibre-optic cables that traverse the sea?
Jumping Ship – Skirting Empire: Indians, Aborigines and Australians across the Indian Ocean
Nov 15, 2007
Using a case study of movement from South Asia to Australia, I argue that 19th and 20th C diasporic movement can be reconsidered by changing our focus from land-based analysis to oceanic presences, that is, to recognize the sea as being an integral and, in fact, de-stablising element of ‘landscapes of meaning’. In the Indian Ocean as well as in much of the Atlantic trade, South Asians supplied a significant proportion of the labour force for shipping crews. I will be outlining the early findings of a new strategy to research the histories of uncontrolled movements of people, in this case Indians into Australia, which are by definition undocumented. The expanded imperial networks in fact opened up very new ways for people, ideas and technologies to circulate, in effect, behind Empire’s back.