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“Who Leaves Home If There is a Choice?”

Migration Decisions of Women Workers on Tea Plantations in India

Supurna Banerjee

Abstract

The Dooars tea plantations in India were colonial enterprises set up through recruiting a migrant workforce from Central India. Against the background of the crisis in the Indian tea industry in the early 2000s, and the resulting migration of workers to the cities to join various casual workforces, this article questions the dualities in the framework of migration/displacement and aspiration/ desperation. Through mapping the migration decisions of women workers from the plantations, the article traces the ways in which aspiration often follows from migration rather than predating it. Inheriting a history of displacement as migrant labor brought from Central India, the aspiration expressed is often that of belonging. The article then interrogates how the narratives of displacements feature in narratives of aspiration. The migration strategies are not uniform among all the women, but vary across their life stages and accordingly the possibilities and limitations post-migration differ.

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Book Reviews

Sandra Dinter, Weipin Tsai, and Freke Caset

Kerri Andrews, Wanderers: A History of Women Walking (London: Reaktion Books, 2020), 303 pp., £14.99.

Nanny Kim, Mountain Rivers, Mountain Roads: Transport in Southwest China, 1700–1850 (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2019), xxvi, 621 pp, €149/$179

Karen Chapple and Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, Transit-Oriented Displacement or Community Dividends? (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2019), 347 pp., 67 black-and-white illustrations, $40.00.

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Book Reviews

Laura Levine Frader, Ian Merkel, Jessica Lynne Pearson, and Caroline Séquin

Lisa Greenwald, Daughters of 1968: Redefining French Feminism and the Women's Liberation Movement (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2018).

Eric T. Jennings, Escape from Vichy: The Refugee Exodus to the French Caribbean (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018).

Kathleen Keller, Colonial Suspects: Suspicion, Imperial Rule, and Colonial Society in Interwar French West Africa (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2018).

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Brand of Brothers?

The Humboldt Forum and the Myths of Innocence

Jonathan Bach

Abstract

This article explores two modes of innocence at work in the making of the Humboldt Forum, Germany's biggest cultural project. It examines the legacy of the historical castle's “cabinet of curiosities” and the elevation of the Humboldt brothers, especially Alexander von Humboldt, to patron saints. Through these cases, the article identifies an exculpatory mode of innocence focused on the past and an anticipatory mode focused on the future. These modes, it argues, exemplify a tension between the imagination of history as a timeless realm that eschews redemption and as fungible materials that can be recombined to start anew and redeem the past.

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Editorial

Stéphanie Ponsavady

True to our original mission, this new issue of Transfers brings together a plurality of disciplines, from history to anthropology and literary criticism. It showcases reactions to the current pandemic as well as far-reaching reflections on the meanings of mobility. Bracketing our issue, two articles engage with the history of mobility. Drawing our attention to the extent of the automobility system, in “The Freeway Journey: Landscape and Mobility in the Southern Auto Industry,” John E. Mohr questions the economic and social costs of developing the I-85 highway corridor through the American South. Hugo Silveira Pereira interrogates “The Past, Present, and Future of Peripheral Mobilities in Portugal” through a history of the Portuguese narrow-gauge railway system that spans over a century.

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Educating Women, Recasting Patriarchy

Becoming Modern in Colonial Morocco

Etty Terem

Abstract

This article explores the development of reformist thought and the formulation of modern identities in colonial Morocco. In seeking to move beyond conceptualizing ideas of social reorganization and cultural revival as determined by the encounter between the colonizer and the colonized, it shifts the critical focus to interactions within Moroccan colonial society itself. Specifically, it situates a project of reform in girls’ education within a local and broader debate on the effective formula for educational and pedagogic restructuring that would ensure the advance of the Muslim community. This analysis demonstrates that ideas of social change and cultural innovation in colonial Morocco were shaped by divides and disputes among Moroccans themselves as much as by the colonial state and its policy initiatives.

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Forced Immobility

Undocumented Migrants, Boats, Brussels, and Islands

Godfrey Baldacchino

Abstract

Over April and May 2020, some 425 undocumented male migrants, mainly of Sub-Saharan origin, making the perilous crossing by boat from Libya toward Europe across the central Mediterranean, were saved and taken aboard by Maltese search and rescue vessels. However, instead of being immediately ported and disembarked, they were transferred to four “pleasure boats” and left bobbing on the high seas, some for forty days, while the Maltese government sought out other European countries who might be willing to take in some of them. This article uses this episode to foreground the manner in which boats and ships are serving as floating islands, also in international waters, producing a modern form of forced immobility and arrest.

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Françoise Légey and Childbirth in Morocco

Jonathan G. Katz

Abstract

The pioneering French doctor Françoise Entz Légey (1876-1935) devoted her career in Algeria and Morocco to women's healthcare. Much acclaimed in her lifetime, and remembered today largely for her two books on Moroccan folklore, Légey established in Marrakesh a maternity hospital and a milk dispensary. She also embarked on a plan to instruct “modern” midwives to replace indigenous matrones and sages-femmes, known in Arabic as qablas. While Protectorate policy afforded opportunities to European women physicians like Légey, it simultaneously undermined the authority of indigenous Moroccan women healthcare providers. Efforts by Légey and other European physicians to supplant indigenous medicine with biomedicine ultimately contributed to the landscape of medical pluralism that prevails today. Moreover, European medicine disproportionately attracted the Jewish minority and further contributed to Jewish alienation from the Muslim majority.

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The Freeway Journey

Landscape and Mobility in the Southern Auto Industry

John E. Mohr

Abstract

The I-85 highway corridor through the American South has emerged as a key artery for the global auto industry over the last three decades. An influx of foreign capital has transformed the region into one of the world's prime automobile manufacturing hubs. The easy mobility offered by I-85 and its tributary networks has been central to the economic and social transformation of the region. However, there are distinct limits and costs to this transformation that are frequently downplayed in the name of a technologically utopian approach to development. The I-85 corridor has facilitated the development of the auto industry in the American South, but it has also contributed greatly to the increasing capitalist exploitation of its people.

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Getting Behind the Object We Love the Most

Cars: Accelerating the Modern World Victoria and Albert Museum

Robert Braun and Richard Randell

Recounted through artifacts, primarily automobiles, but also photographs, video, text, and automobile related installations, Cars: Accelerating the Modern World presented a history of the automobile from its beginnings—a restored 1896 Benz—to an imagined future represented by a “flying car.” The exhibition promised to help us navigate possible car futures based on what we can learn from the past.