Friday, September 7, 2018

Mawani on Oceans of Law

Renisa Mawani, University of British Columbia, has published Across Oceans of Law: The Komagata Maru and Jurisdiction in the Time of Empire with Duke University Press. From the publisher: 
In 1914 the British-built and Japanese-owned steamship Komagata Maru left Hong Kong for Vancouver carrying 376 Punjabi migrants. Chartered by railway contractor and purported rubber planter Gurdit Singh, the ship and its passengers were denied entry into Canada and two months later were deported to Calcutta. In Across Oceans of Law Renisa Mawani retells this well-known story of the Komagata Maru. Drawing on "oceans as method"—a mode of thinking and writing that repositions land and sea—Mawani examines the historical and conceptual stakes of situating histories of Indian migration within maritime worlds. Through close readings of the ship, the manifest, the trial, and the anticolonial writings of Singh and others, Mawani argues that the Komagata Maru's landing raised urgent questions regarding the jurisdictional tensions between the common law and admiralty law, and, ultimately, the legal status of the sea. By following the movements of a single ship and bringing oceans into sharper view, Mawani traces British imperial power through racial, temporal, and legal contests and offers a novel method of writing colonial legal history.
Praise for the book:

“Charting the 1914 voyage of the SS Komagata Maru and focusing on the sea, the ship, the manifest, the indigenous, and the fugitive, Renisa Mawani makes a compelling case against the European myth of the ‘free sea.’ Arguing for a new ‘ocean as method’ and foregrounding the co-emergence of maritime law and the policing of immigration, this book will rightly be seen as a legal and historical tour de force.” -Gaurav Desai

“This beautifully written and richly illustrated book provides a new global and oceanic history perspective on the journey of the Komagata Maru. Ranging across theories of law, time, and space, Renisa Mawani places an event limited in time and scale into some of the large questions and themes of history: migration, mobility, maritime jurisdiction, race, legal rights, and anticolonial radicalism.”-Clare Anderson

Further information is available here.