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Caroline Osella to Lecture in Global Fellows Seminar

Caroline Osella, a reader in anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, will lecture at Washington and Lee University as part of the Winter 2016 Global Fellows Seminar: Tradition and Change in the Middle East and South Asia. Her talk will be Jan. 27, 2016, at 5 p.m. in Hillel 101.

The seminar is supported by the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation.

Osella will speak on “A Space of Possibilities: How Gulf Migration Impacts South Indian Muslim Family Life and Gendered Relationships.” The talk is free and open to the public. It will be broadcast live online.

“Migration is often seen as a social problem in itself, or as bringing problems, whether by family separation, rising expectations and pressures around living standards and consumer cultures, erosion of secure cultural identities and so on,” said Oscella.

“I will show that members of migrant families often put very high social and emotional value on the many spaces which migration opens up for them and carefully cultivate the changes it can open out towards, even as they also stay mindful of obligations and normative expectations and watchful for potential critique in the wider community. In many ways, migration is working to keep families together, even as it re-shapes households, relationships and lives.”

Since 1989, Osella has conducted her ethnographic fieldwork in Kerala, South India, and with Kerala migrants in various parts of the United Arab Emirates. Her recent work has explored Kerala as an Indian Ocean model questioning the nation bias, and in the ways in which Kerala and the Persian Gulf states are entangled.

At SOAS, Osella teaches regional anthropology; sex, gender and sexuality; ethnology of South Asian Islam; and migration and dispersion. Her broadest research interest is that of how projects of identity crafting are brought back to the body, while socially constructed bodies are differentiated to reflect class, ethnic and gender differences, and to forge social hierarchies.

Osella is the co-author of four books including “Islamic Reform in South Asia” (Cambridge University Press, 2013); “Men and Masculinities in South India” (Anthem Press, 2006); “South Asian Masculinities: Context of Change, Sites of Continuity” (Kali for Women, 2004). She is the co-author of 13 book chapters and author and co-author of over 20 articles.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the W&L’s Department of Religion, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, the Shepherd Program in Poverty and Human Capability Studies, the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, and the Middle East and South Asia Teacher Scholar Cohort.