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South Asia Across Disciplines Graduate Workshop

Speaker: Vineeta Sinha, Professor of Sociology and South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore

Discussant: Anne Monius,  Professor of South Asian Religions, Harvard Divinity School

Using the history of colonial railway construction in Singapore and Malaysia as a lens, Prof. Sinha narrates the interlocking accounts of Indian labour migrations to these regions and the sacralization of the landscapes by these ‘labouring’ communities. The migrant Indian labour that constructed (and maintained) the railways also built shrines in the vicinity of railway stations, locomotive sheds, living quarters and along the railway tracks. She argues that unpacking sedimented, intertwined histories of these spaces reveals the intriguing entanglements of technology and piety on the one hand and labour and religion-making on the other.