Goffe co-founds journal on indenture with Einaudi support

Tao Leigh Goffe, assistant professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, and prominent Guyanese writer and scholar David Dabydeen have co-founded the Journal of Indentureship and its Legacies, a new peer-reviewed academic publication associated with the Ameena Gafoor Institute, which focuses on the study of indentureship and its legacies.


Tao Leigh Goffe

Tao Leigh Goffe

“We investigate the lasting impact of bondage and degrees of unfreedom across the globe,” said Goffe, who teaches Africana studies and feminist, gender and sexuality studies. “The mission of the journal is to highlight what I term in my research ‘the forgotten catastrophe of racial indenture’ and its impact across the globe.”

After the abolition of transatlantic slavery in the 19th century, European colonial powers installed indentured laborers from China, India, Java and Africa to replace enslaved African labor, Goffe said. This period of indentured labor and its fallout extended from Cuba to Mauritius to Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

A Global Public Voices fellowship from the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies enables Goffe – with Dabydeen as her international collaborator – to increase the journal’s international reach. This year’s Global Public Voices theme is Global Racial Justice.

Goffe is one of eight Cornell faculty in Global Public Voices’ inaugural cohort, who are working with international partners to expand the reach of Cornell’s academic expertise to new audiences.

“We are keen to work with the Einaudi Center’s guidance to include voices from the ‘global south’ [and work] toward South-South or South-East intimacies that de-center the West,” Goffe said. “Our journal’s academic advisory board reflects this global commitment to diasporic scholarship.”

The first issue of the Journal of Indentureship and its Legacies, scheduled to appear in May 2021, centers on the abolition of indenture in the British Commonwealth in 1917. It features work by scholars and creative writers from a range of disciplines. The editors have put out a call for papers for the second issue, “Unbound Sexualities: The Erotics of Indenture and its Legacies,” scheduled for publication in November 2021.

Future special issues will include food – “the gastropoetics of indenture,” Goffe said – and indentured labor in China.

Dabydeen invited Goffe to join the journal’s leadership team, which includes scholars Maria del Pilar Kaladeen in London and Amar Wahab in Toronto.

“The four of us are stewarding this journal,” Goffe said, “to be a platform for established and emerging scholars who are writing critically about the institution of indentureship and its aftermath across boundaries of nation, race, gender and sexuality.”

Kate Blackwood is a writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.

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