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category: Social Science
published: Aug 2019
publisher: UBC Press

Unmooring the Komagata Maru

Charting Colonial Trajectories

edited by Rita Dhamoon; Davina Bhandar; Renisa Mawani & Satwinder Kaur Bains

tagged: emigration & immigration, post-confederation (1867-)

In 1914, the SS Komagata Maru arrived in Vancouver Harbour and was detained for two months. Most of its 376 passengers were then forcibly returned to India. Unmooring the Komagata Maru challenges conventional Canadian historical accounts by drawing from multiple disciplines and fields to consider the international and colonial dimensions of the voyage. By situating South Asian Canadian history within a global-imperial context, the contributors offer a critical reading of Canadian multiculturalism through past events and their commemoration. A hundred years later, the voyage of the Komagata Maru has yet to reach its conclusion.

About the Authors

Rita Dhamoon

Davina Bhandar

Renisa Mawani

Satwinder Kaur Bains

Contributor Notes

Rita Kaur Dhamoon is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Victoria. She is author of Identity/Difference Politics: How Difference Is Produced and Why It Matters and has written widely on multiculturalism, critical race theory, feminist and gender politics, and anti-colonial studies. Davina Bhandar is an assistant professor of political science at the Centre for Social Sciences at Athabasca University. She has published in the areas of critical race studies, migration, theories of dispossession, citizenship studies, and the securitization of borders. Renisa Mawani is a professor of sociology and recurrent chair of the Law and Society Program at the University of British Columbia. She is the author of Colonial Proximities: Crossracial Encounters and Juridical Truths in British Columbia, 1871–1921 and Across Oceans of Law: The Komagata Maru and Jurisdiction in the Time of Empire and, with Antoinette Burton, the coeditor of Animalia: An Imperial Bestiary of Our Times. Satwinder Kaur Bains is an associate professor of social, cultural, and media studies at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford. She has written articles for the Asia-Pacific Journal, Women’s Studies International Forum, Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care, and Understanding Sikhism: The Research Journal, and has contributed various book chapters.


Contributors: Suchetana Chattopadhyay, Enakshi Dua, Ian Christopher Fletcher, Ayesha Hameed, Nadia Hasan, Rajender Kaur, Sailaja Krishnamurti, Tariq Malik, Kaori Mizukami, Radhika Mongia, Omme-Salma Rahemtullah, Alia Somani, Irina Spector-Marks, Nayani Thiyagarajah, Nishant Upadhyay

  • Commended, Best Edited Collection, Canadian Studies Network
Editorial Review

Overall, this book is a well-written, rich and complex exploration of an event that illuminates Canadian nationalism and racisms and the transnational disciplining of brown bodies across borders, as well as historical anti-imperialist and contemporary anti-racist and anticolonial struggles. As a book that makes a vital contribution to political science and, indeed, the social sciences more broadly, Unmooring the Komagata Maru deserves an important place in university classrooms and research libraries across Canada and beyond.

— Canadian Journal of Political Science

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