This project is about the racialization of migrant labourers across political boundaries, with a main focus on impoverished Europeans who served in huge numbers as indentured labourers in nineteenth-century Guianese, Caribbean and Hawaiian sugar plantations and in the workforce of late nineteenth and early twentieth century New England cotton mills.
With this project I aim to provide major, innovative contributions on three fronts:
(i) theory-making, by working the concepts of race, racism, racialization, embodiment and memory in association with migrant work across political boundaries and imperial classifications;
(ii) social relevance of basic research, by linking an issue of pressing urgency in contemporary Europe to substantive, broad-scope, and multi-sited anthropological/historical research on the wider structures of domination, rather than to targeted problem-solving research of immediate applicability;
(iii) disciplinary scope, by proposing to unsettle historical anthropology and ethnographic history from within the boundaries of a single empire, and to overcome the limitations of existing comparative studies, by inquiring into the flows and interactions between competing empires.
I will also:
(iv) strengthen the methodology for multi-sited, multi-period research in anthropology;
(v) contribute to an anthropology of global connections and trans-local approaches;
(vi) promote the multidisciplinary and combined-methods approach to complex subjects;
(vii) narrate a poorly known set of historical situations of labour racializations involving Europeans and document the ways they reverberate through generations; and
(viii) make the analysis available to both academic audiences and the different communities involved in the research.