Dr Kalathmika Natarajan
Lecturer in Modern History
As a historian of modern South Asia, my research and teaching interests bring together the fields of Indian diplomatic history, imperial and global history, and migration studies. I am interested in critical, bottom-up approaches to diplomatic history: my work locates histories of migration across the Indian Ocean and beyond as central to the making of postcolonial diplomacy.
Drawing on my doctoral thesis, I am currently working on a book manuscript provisionally titled Afterlives of Indenture: ‘Undesirable’ Migrants and the Making of Indian Diplomacy. The book will provide an alternative framework for Indian diplomatic history by recovering the figure of the migrant and foregrounding histories of indentured labour. It argues that the Indian state conceptualised the international realm as a space of anxiety where it sought to renegotiate the ‘shame’ of the 'coolie'.
My research has also been concerned with the intersections of caste and mobility - an effort to address the studied amnesia over caste in the scholarship on diplomatic history and international relations. My article exploring the history of India's postcolonial passport regime through its efforts to prevent the mobility of ‘lower’ caste and class migrants is forthcoming in Modern Asian Studies (2022).