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CHS organises a lecture by Dr Zaen Alkazi

CHS organises a lecture by Dr Zaen Alkazi

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CHS organises a lecture by Dr Zaen Alkazi
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Abstract: Between October 1928 and April 1929, workers took over the shop floors of Bombay’s cotton mills to resist the Bombay Mill Owners’ Association’s plans to rationalize the work process. Organized in the mill committees of the Girni Kamgar Union (Textile Workers’ Union), workers defied work discipline *en masse* by refusing to comply with orders, work speed-ups, and shift timings. Moreover, mill committee activists claimed that the only legitimate authority in the mill was that of the union and issued orders that conflicted with those of mill management, producing a crisis of managerial authority. Workers claimed *labour raj was* imminent, while mill officials armed themselves with revolvers in an attempt to re-establish their authority, bringing working-class Bombay to the brink of violent class conflict.

Such moments of labour mobilization provoke us to rethink the nationalist historiography of late colonial South Asia, which paints the end of the empire as a period dominated by Gandhian non-violent anti-colonial mass mobilization. In this paper, I will argue that late colonialism was suspended between the present of mass movements and the imminence of a
decolonized future, between the ‘no longer’ of the permanence of colonial rule and the ‘not yet’ of an undefined ‘freedom’. This historical tension allowed for diverse political imaginations of emancipation to develop, which challenged the emancipatory limits of Gandhian anti-colonial mobilization and gave politics a utopian edge.

Dr Zaen Alkazi is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the New Political Economy Initiative, IIT Bombay. His work explores the urban and labour politics of late colonial South Asia through studies of Bombay’s textile and railway workers. Zaen holds a PhD in History from the School of Oriental and African Studies for his thesis, ‘The Political Imaginations of Bombay’s
Textile Workers, c. 1928-1946’. Apart from his academic work, Zaen also reports on the working conditions of Indian railway workers today.

A warm welcome to the modified and updated website of the Centre for East Asian Studies. The East Asian region has been at the forefront of several path-breaking changes since 1970s beginning with the redefining the development architecture with its State-led development model besides emerging as a major region in the global politics and a key hub of the sophisticated technologies. The Centre is one of the thirteen Centres of the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi that provides a holistic understanding of the region.

Initially, established as a Centre for Chinese and Japanese Studies, it subsequently grew to include Korean Studies as well. At present there are eight faculty members in the Centre. Several distinguished faculty who have now retired include the late Prof. Gargi Dutt, Prof. P.A.N. Murthy, Prof. G.P. Deshpande, Dr. Nranarayan Das, Prof. R.R. Krishnan and Prof. K.V. Kesavan. Besides, Dr. Madhu Bhalla served at the Centre in Chinese Studies Programme during 1994-2006. In addition, Ms. Kamlesh Jain and Dr. M. M. Kunju served the Centre as the Documentation Officers in Chinese and Japanese Studies respectively.

The academic curriculum covers both modern and contemporary facets of East Asia as each scholar specializes in an area of his/her interest in the region. The integrated course involves two semesters of classes at the M. Phil programme and a dissertation for the M. Phil and a thesis for Ph. D programme respectively. The central objective is to impart an interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of history, foreign policy, government and politics, society and culture and political economy of the respective areas. Students can explore new and emerging themes such as East Asian regionalism, the evolving East Asian Community, the rise of China, resurgence of Japan and the prospects for reunification of the Korean peninsula. Additionally, the Centre lays great emphasis on the building of language skills. The background of scholars includes mostly from the social science disciplines; History, Political Science, Economics, Sociology, International Relations and language.

Several students of the centre have been recipients of prestigious research fellowships awarded by Japan Foundation, Mombusho (Ministry of Education, Government of Japan), Saburo Okita Memorial Fellowship, Nippon Foundation, Korea Foundation, Nehru Memorial Fellowship, and Fellowship from the Chinese and Taiwanese Governments. Besides, students from Japan receive fellowship from the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.