CALL FOR PAPERS: International Conference on Labour, Working Animals and the Environment in the Indian Ocean World

Indian Ocean World Centre (IOWC) McGill University, Montreal, Canada. 4-5 May, 2017.

The Indian Ocean World Centre (IOWC) at McGill University is organising a conference that addresses the intertwined aspects of labour, working animals, and the environment in the Indian Ocean World (from China to Southeast and South Asia, the Middle East and Africa) from early times to the present day. In this context, we define labour broadly as any productive activity (economic and/or intellectual). By working animals, we mean animals for agricultural production and transportation. Thus the conference aims to examine the Indian Ocean as a “world” over the longue durée through the interrelated lenses of labour, working animals, and environment. Humans and working animals became familiar with their environment chiefly through their lives and labour. In the Indian Ocean World, different flows of free and unfree labour (for e.g. slavery, indentured labour, convict labour and others) moved from one place to the other and were often the products of empires' capitalistic needs. Such flows of labour interacted with and transformed their environments through processes of work and the medium of their bodies, just as the environment and climate influenced human and animal activities. Besides working animals, this process of human- environment interaction includes the role in the larger natural and ecological realms of the Indian Ocean World the role of wild animals and insects such as, rats, locusts, mosquitoes, as well as the diseases they carried which could significantly affect both human, especially laboring, and animal


In this multidisciplinary project, we welcome contributions from many areas of study, including history, geography, area studies, anthropology, sociology, and literary studies. Possible topics include, but are by no means limited to:

  • 􏰀  role of climate and environment in the circulation of labour

  • 􏰀  how environment shape labour processes

  • 􏰀  environmentalism and social movements

  • 􏰀  bodies at work

  • 􏰀  colonial discourses on climate, race and fitness of human and non-human actors

  • 􏰀  relations between human and animal bodies, work and environment

  • 􏰀  how plantation economies impacted on ecology

  • 􏰀  labour /animal mobility and circulation of disease

  • 􏰀  impact of disease on labour /animal productivity

  • 􏰀  political authority and circulation of labour

  • 􏰀  animals and sanitation

  • 􏰀  animal labour

  • 􏰀  animals as capital

  • 􏰀  representations of landscapes, labor and working animals

    Submission and Registration:

    Deadline for abstract submission is 3 March 2017, 11:59 PM ET. Abstracts must be no more than 250 words and in either English or French. Please submit abstracts to A registration fee of $100 CAD ($60 CAD for students) will be charged. The fee for late registration is $130 CAD ($75 CAD for students).

    For any questions, contact either Dr. Yoshina Hurgobin ( or Dr. Zozan Pehlivan (