Bristol Benjamin Meaker Distinguished Visiting Professor Nandita Sharma, University of Hawai’i Manoa, Hawaii, USA

The Hydra Rising

Visit dates to be confirmed for 2021/22


Nandita Sharma is Professor of Racism, Migration and Transnationalism in the Department of Sociology at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Her research interests address themes of human mobility, the production of the state categories (and political figures) of Native and Migrant, the national form of state power, ideologies of racism, nationalism and autochthony, processes of identification and self-understanding, and social movements for justice. Professor Sharma is an activist scholar whose research is shaped by the social movements she is active in, including No Borders movements and those struggling for the worldwide commons. She has co-edited Special Issues of the journal Transnational Social Review – A Social Work Journal (2015, 5(1)) on “Borders, Transborders, No Borders: Problematizing The “Figure Of The Migrant,” (with Cornelia Schweppe); the journal Refuge (2009 [2011], 26:2). on “No Borders as a Practical Political Project” (with Bridget Anderson and Cynthia Wright), and the journal Canadian Woman Studies (2002, 21 (3 & 4) on “Women, Globalization and International Trade.” In addition to numerous book chapters in scholarly anthologies, Professor Sharma is the author of numerous journal articles, including in Mobilities; Anti-Trafficking Review; National Women’s Studies Association Journal; Studies in Political Economy; and The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology. Professor Sharma is also the author of two books: Home Economics: Nationalism and the Making of 'Migrant Workers' in Canada (University of Toronto Press, 2006) and Home Rule: National Sovereignty and the Separation of Natives and Migrants (Duke University Press, 2020).


The Many Headed Hydra: sailors, slaves, commoners and the hidden history of the revolutionary Atlantic is an internationally renowned book written by social historians Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker that discusses the history of the disorderly mass that was opposed the emergence of a global system of exploitable labour in the eighteenth century. Bridget Anderson and Nandita Sharma are editing a volume that examines the contemporary Hydra, by which we understand political struggles and movements that challenge concepts that were highly contested when international capitalism was emerging but which are now taken for granted. This include ideas of property, family, money and nation. Each chapter will develop the ideas, relationships and actions described in a chapter of the original book, as they are now being made and experienced in the contemporary world. We are particularly interested in building on The Many Headed Hydra’s engagement with Bristol history.

This builds on Dr Sharma’s previous book Home Rule: national sovereignty and the separation of natives and migrants published by Duke University Press in February 2020. This traces the historical formation and political separation of ‘natives’ and ‘migrants’, to challenge claims that migrants are contemporary ‘settler colonists’ and calls for new ways of analysing and doing politics that bring together ‘migrants’ and ‘indigenous people and move away from sovereignty and statehood. It also builds on Professor Anderson’s current interest in methodological de-nationalism. Dr Sharma’s fellowship will run alongside a research visit to the UoB from the New School for Social Research in New York, with whom both Anderson and Sharma have been collaborating for several years.

Dr Sharma is hosted by Professor Bridget Anderson, Sociology, Politics and International Studies

Planned events include:

A Public lecture on her book ‘Home Rule: national sovereignty and the separation of natives and migrants

Departmental Lecture
Decolonization and Mobility: Decentering the ‘foreign’ and liberating movement

Postgraduate Seminar
How not to think like a state: non-exclusion as the basis of political community