The legacy of indentured labour
with Sancintya Mohini Simpson and Imelda Miller
05 March 2020
Join IMA Belltower artist Sancintya Mohini Simpson in conversation with historian and curator Imelda Miller, bringing to fore the colonial practice of forced and indentured labour and tracing its impacts to the present day.
Simpson and Miller use their own archival research practices and exhibition-making as a tool to bring their ancestral stories to light and act as a sites of acknowledgement, commemoration, and healing.
The discussion will explore the often-absented stories of ‘blackbirding’ South Sea Islander communities—a practice of kidnapping and forced labour on sugar cane farms in Australia—and the parallel history of Indian indentured labour forced to work in South African sugar cane farms. Simpson and Miller will draw these stories into the complicated narrative of colonialism and contemporary society.
This talk will be followed by First Thursdays with Sancintya Mohini Simpson (Women’s History Month) featuring performances in the courtyard by Joella Warkill, Manisha Anjali, Shivanjani Lal, Sancintya Mohini Simpson, and Isha Ram Das.
Brisbane-based curator, Imelda Miller is interested in creating awareness about the history of South Sea Islander labour in Queensland’s sugar industry between 1863 to 1904. For over 20 years, Imelda has been working to change the narrative about South Sea Island history in major collecting institutions in Queensland—from a story about a past historical event, to a narrative that is intrinsically connected to the descendants, the Australian South Sea Islander community. Miller explores an intersection where historical objects, photographs, and archives are interwoven with people’s personal narratives and acknowledge community agency, representation, and healing.
Sancintya Mohini Simpson
Sancintya Mohini Simpson is an artist and researcher based in Brisbane, Australia. Her practice addresses the impact of colonisation on the historical and lived experiences of her family, and more broadly traces the movements and passages of indentured labourers from India to South Africa during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Her interdisciplinary practice draws on the archive to explore the complexities of migration, memory, and trauma. Simpson’s work moves between painting and video, to poetry and performance, developing narratives and rituals, which she uses to navigate family history, and embed wider narratives surrounding the Indian indenture diaspora community.