Key People for the Yale InterAsia Initiative

<Principal Investigators>

Professor Helen Siu (Department of Anthropology, Council on East Asian Studies)

Professor Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan (Department of Anthropology, India and South Asian Studies Council, Forestry and Environmental Studies)


<Affiliated Faculty>

Professor Eric Harms (Department of Anthropology, Council on Southeast Asian Studies)

Professor Peter Perdue (Department of History, Council on East Asian Studies)

Professor Rohit De (Department of History)
Rights from the Left: Decolonization, Diasporas and the Global History of Rebellious Lawyering
In 1952, British attempts to quietly prosecute Jomo Kenyatta and his colleagues for leading the Mau Mau fell apart with the unexpected arrival of an international legal defence team consisting of British and Irish barristers; lawyers sent by Ghana, India and Nigeria, a Jamaican from Tanzania and three Kenyan counsel of Indian descent (a Hindu, a Sikh and a Catholic). This project establishes that the transnational character of the trial was typical of its time, uncovering a hitherto ignored period of legal globalization, by showing how trials conventionally understood as “national events” in Kenya, Tanzania, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Guyana and Singapore were produced by an internationalist culture of civil liberties emerging from decolonization. Following Kenyatta’s lawyers as they move across jurisdictions defending unpopular causes and across time as they cope with the new postcolonial authoritarianisms, this project offers an alternate international history of rights emerging from Asia and Africa that moves away from discussions between states and instead explores the chequered history of the concepts among social movements and the claims they make of their states. Focusing on legal practice across time, reveals how the engagement with these trials was formative for a generation of lawyers who would go onto pioneer new forms of progressive lawyering. This project maps a shared legal culture that allows lawyers to move and legal spectacles to be consumed, that is rooted in the British Indian law codes, circulating precedents and textbooks and operationalized by lawyers from the Indian, Chinese and Caribbean diasporas.


<Postdoctoral Associates/Fellows>

Debojyoti Das is the InterAsia postdoctoral fellow and is an anthropologist of South Asia, focusing on the borderlands of eastern India and the Indian Ocean. His work is interdisciplinary, bridging his training as an ethnographer with archival research and extensive use of visual media and oral sources. His current research focuses on sustainable development and disaster risk reduction policy issues in the Indian Ocean coastal world through critical study of community museums, visual arts, folk paintings and in-depth participatory research.

James Pickett is the InterAsia postdoctoral associate and specializes in the history of empire and Islamic authority. His first book project explores transregional networks of Persianate exchange among religious scholars in Bukhara during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Related articles also trace the cultural memory of this era as a subsequent influence on Soviet propaganda in Iran and language ideology in Central Eurasia. James’ second project will compare Bukhara’s transformation into a Russian protectorate with the Indian princely state of Hyderabad’s parallel trajectory into semi-colonial status. He teaches a seminar entitled “Islam and Empire in Central / South Asia.” James received his Ph.D. from Princeton (2015) and is concurrently an assistant professor in the history department at the University of Pittsburgh.

Rajashree Mazumder (InterAsia Postdoctoral Associate, South Asian Studies Council)
Rajashree Mazumder received her Ph.D. in Spring 2013 from the Department of History at University of California, Los Angeles.  Her dissertation is titled: “Constructing the Indian Immigrant to Colonial Burma 1885-1948.” Beyond India and Burma, her research interests relate to networks of circulation: people, commodities and ideas in the Indian Ocean region both in the early modern and the modern period. As a postdoctoral associate and lecturer at Yale University, she taught a seminar course: “Migration in the Indian Ocean Region.” Beginning academic year 2014-15, she will be joining Union College, NY as an Assistant Professor of History. Select publications include: “I Do Not Envy You: Mixed Marriages and Immigration Debates in the 1920s and 1930s Rangoon, Burma” in Indian Economic and Social History Review (IESHR, March 2015).

Chika Watanabe (InterAsia Postdoctoral Associate, Council on East Asian Studies)
Chika Watanabe holds a PhD in Anthropology from Cornell University, where she researched Japanese NGO aid in Myanmar. She is currently working on her book manuscript, The Muddy Labor of Aid: Moral Imaginaries of Sustainable Development Across Asia. Her research interests include development and humanitarian aid, sustainability, religion/secularity, questions of personhood, and issues of morality and ethics. While keeping an eye on Myanmar, her next major project will examine aid practices and disaster preparedness in the aftermath of the March 2011 disasters in Japan. As of August 2014, she has been a permanent Lecturer in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester (UK).

Yukiko Tonoike (Part-time InterAsia Research Scientist, Department of Anthropology)
Yukiko Tonoike received her PhD in Anthropology from Yale University in December 2009, where she focused on Near Eastern prehistory.  Her main research interests are understanding human interaction patterns from the objects that have been left behind and using technology to analyze, interpret, archive, collaborate, and present research data.