Kritika Kultura, the international refereed journal of language, literary, and cultural studies of the Department of English, Ateneo de Manila University, will be hosting a lecture by Megan C. Thomas titled “Lascars, Sepoys, and other Indian Ocean Worlds of the British Occupation (1762-64).” The lecture will be held on Nov. 19, 2014, 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., at the 1/f De La Costa Building Faculty Lounge, Ateneo de Manila University.
Thomas’s abstract reads: “This paper traces connections between Luzon and India during the Seven Years War, as embodied by British forces sent to Manila in 1762. It is well known that British forces occupied Manila, but less common to think about who those British forces were, where they had come from, and how their earlier experiences might have shaped what they did once they landed in Manila. British forces included, among others, sepoys (South Asian infantrymen trained in Western styles of soldiering), topasses (Indo-Portuguese Catholics who served as gunners East India Company forces), lascars (seafarers and laborers from around the Indian Ocean world), ‘coffreys’ (African and Afro-descendant laborers often working as soldiers for the East India Company) and French deserters, all embarked from Madras and veterans of Anglo-French conflicts in India. These men were sometimes difficult for their commanders to control, and when they did things like plunder or desert, they employed strategies common to the struggling subaltern soldiery of India’s militaries, those attached to European as well as those attached to Indian powers. The paper outlines the imperial ambitions that produced this moment of traveling labor, unpacks the histories of these terms that refer to much of the British force, and begins to trace the travels and strategies of these men. The paper also reflects on what this historical moment can tell us about the places of Manila and other parts of the Philippines in the Indian Ocean world of the late eighteenth century.”
Megan C. Thomas teaches political theory at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies of the Politics Department, and affiliated faculty of the History of Consciousness Program. She has written mostly on nineteenth-century intellectual history, and mostly on the ilustrados, but her interests include eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European intellectual history—especially early anarchist and socialist thought—and comparative political theory. She is the author of the book Orientalists, Propagandists, and Ilustrados: Filipino Scholarship and the End of Spanish Colonialism (U of Minnesota P, 2012), and her journal articles have appeared in Philippine Studies, Comparative Studies in Society and History, and Review of Politics. Her current research is moving toward social history.