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Dissident mobilities: the Komagata Maru and Indian travellers in the Empire

WithPramod K. Nayar

This essay reads on the incident of Komagata Maru as described in Gurdit Singh's Voyage of Komagata Maru or India's Slavery Abroad (undated) within a category I characterize as ‘dissident mobilities’. The Komagata Maru incident has been read most often as embodying unjust Canadian immigration laws, racism and the anxiety over Hindu migrants. Dissident mobilities is my term for the emphasis on resistance, opposition, nationalism but also on rights, equality and survival that we can discern in the documents (such as the Report of the Komagata Maru Committee of Inquiry, 1914) around the mobility of Komagata Maru's passengers as well as in other travelogues of the same period (1910–1930). I propose to locate the Singh's text and supporting documents within an entire canon of similar travel narratives by Indians to the West, thereby making a case for a discourse of dissidence that seems to underlie the politics of mobility.