About the event:

The ocean has always been the harbinger of strangers to new shores. Migrations by sea have transformed modern conceptions of mobility and belonging, disrupting notions of how to write about movement, memory and displaced histories. Sea Log is a memory theater of repressive hauntings based on urban artifacts across a maritime archive of Dutch and Portuguese colonial pillage.

Colonial incursions from the sea, and the postcolonial aftershocks of these violent sea histories, lie largely forgotten for most formerly colonized coastal communities around the world. Offering a feminist log of sea journeys from the Malabar Coast of South India, through the Atlantic to the North Sea, May Joseph writes a navigational history of postcolonial coastal displacements. Excavating Dutch, Portuguese, Arab, Asian and African influences along the Malabar Coast, Joseph unearths the undertow of colonialism’s ruins.

In Sea Log, the Bosphorus, the Tagus and the Amstel find coherence alongside the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean (

May Joseph is Professor of Social Science and Cultural Studies, Pratt Institute, where she teaches a walking history of coastal New York. Joseph is Founder of Harmattan Theater and has produced site specific performances along Dutch and Portuguese maritime routes. Joseph’s other books include Ghosts of Lumumba (2019), Fluid New York: Cosmopolitan Urbanism and the Green Imagination (2013) and Nomadic Identities: The Performance of Citizenship (1999).

Sudipta Sen, Professor of History and Director of the Middle East/South Asia Studies Program, University of California, Davis, is a historian of late Mughal and early British India and the British Empire. He graduated from Presidency College, Calcutta, with BA (Honors) in History, followed by an MA is Modern History from Calcutta University. He earned his second MA in Social Sciences, and was awarded a PhD in History, with Distinction, from the University of Chicago. Sen has taught at Beloit College WI, University of California, Berkeley, and Syracuse University, NY. A former Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research fellow and Senior Fellow at the National Endowment for the Humanities, he won the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Award for his contribution to research and teaching at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University NY. Sen’s work has largely focused on the early history of British expansion in India. He is the author of Empire of Free Trade: The English East India Company and the Making of the Colonial Marketplace (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998) and Distant Sovereignty: National Imperialism and the Origins of British India (Routledge, 2002). His latest book Ganges: The Many Pasts of an Indian River (Yale University Press, 2018), published in India as Ganga: The Many Pasts of a River(Penguin Random House, 2019) is an exploration of the idea of a cosmic, universal river at the interstices of myth, historical geography and ecology.

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