It happened already around 200 years ago: Aboriginal Australians marry Indians. Afghan cameleers open up the interior of Australia for transport and development. Indian seamen fight for Indonesian independence. And long before Australia was colonised by white settlers in 1788, Aboriginees have had longstanding relations with the Indonesian archipelago.
A few weeks ago I met Devleena Ghosh. She is conducting interesting research about the movements of people and ideas in the Indian ocean. We often link transnationalism to today’s world, but Ghosh shows that people have lived globalised lives already several hundred years ago. Australias history consists of more than white settler history.
- It is important to highlight the connections between people, she told me. It is important to challenge the popular belief that migration is something new, that people lived seperated from each other, hating each other. Because that’s not true.
I totally agree with her.
Relationships between South Asians and Australians during the colonial period and earlier have been little investigated. The same can be said of Norwegian history. It was not more than seven years ago, that the first history of immigration was written.
Because of this lack of transnational history writing, the incorrect view of the world as consisting of isolated and self-sustaining societies has been able to dominate the public and scientific discourse. This view has been a fruitful breeding ground for ethnic chauvinism, racism and - in social science - methodological nationalism (pdf).
Devleena Ghosh and her colleagues have published some open access papers:
Devleena Ghosh, Heather Goodall, Lindi Renier Todd: Jumping Ship: Indians, Aborigines and Australians Across the Indian Ocean (Transforming Cultures eJournal, Vol 3, No 1 (2008)