Dr. Nalini Mohabir
Assistant Professor, Geography, Planning and Environment
Years ago, at a Caribbean Migrations conference, I had the privilege of attending a talk by Barbadian poet Kamau Brathwaite. I jotted down his words, for later and as it turns out, ongoing reflection:
Look at his hands
Bones smooth by the hoe
Nothing more to show for thirty years of labour
The shame of it all
Sweet nest of pain
Not just a labourer
A person caught in the middle of an explosion
Retained his integrity, but ignored by society, silence, indifference
What destroyed El Dorado?
Years later, tectonic movements through profound explosions of time and space continue to propel my interests. In particular, I am interested in tracing the routes of dis/placed labouring bodies, as a counter-narrative to colonial archives, and to offer a more contoured mapping of migrations by putting the past into conversation with the present.
My doctoral dissertation (University of Leeds, 2012) focused on the return migration of labourers (formerly indentured to Caribbean plantations) back to India following Indian independence, i.e., decolonization and diaspora as mutually informing ideas. This research was funded by an Overseas Research Student Award (courtesy of the United Kingdom Higher Education Council). Research was conducted through interviews in England, Guyana, India, and Canada and in archives across Fiji, Guyana, India, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom.
My writing has appeared in academic journals including Small Axe, Macomère, Caribbean Review of Gender Studies, Habitat International, and Postcolonial Interventions; newspapers (e.g., Stabroek News, Guyana; New Indian Express, India; and The Guardian, UK); in the contemporary art magazine Of Note, and an exhibition catalogue (Coolie Coolie Viens).
More recently, I have been developing a secondary research interest in Chinese urbanism.
GEOG 498 Feminist Geographies: Bodies & Borders
GEOG 200 World Regional Geography
GEOG 398 Refugees and Forced Migration in Today’s World
GEOG 418 Postcolonial Geographies
Jiang, Y., Mohabir, N., Ma, R., & Zhu, P. (2017). Sorting through Neoliberal Variations of Ghost Cities in China. Land Use Policy, 69, 445-453.
Mohabir, Nalini. "Picturing an Afterlife of Indenture." Small Axe 21.2 53 (2017): 81-93.
Mohabir, Nalini, Yanpeng Jiang, and Renfeng Ma. "Chinese floating migrants: Rural-urban migrant labourers' intentions to stay or return." Habitat International 60 (2017): 101-110.
Mohabir, Nalini. “Indentureship.” The Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies. Ray, Sangeeta and Henry Schwarz. (Eds.) Wiley-Blackwell, 2015
Mohabir, Nalini. "Port of Departure, Port of Return: Mapping Indentured Returns to Calcutta." Small Axe 18.2 44 (2014): 108-122.
Mohabir, Nalini. "Servitude in the Shadow of Slavery? Towards a Relational Account of Indenture." Human Bondage in the Cultural Contact Zone. Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Slavery and Its Discourses (2010): 227.
Mohabir, Nalini. “Women and Return Journeys.” Macomere: Journal of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars. November, 2010: 166-189
Mohabir, Nalini and Hyacinth Simpson. “Resurgent (Rise Again): The Last Repatriation of Indo-Caribbean Indentured Labourers” Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies. 8.3, 2006: 487-505