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Accepted Paper:

Tracing the Origin of “Spy Pigeon” Debate in South Asia  
Muhammad Kavesh (University of Toronto)

Paper short abstract:

In this talk, I explore transformations in pigeons’ status in South Asia from a symbol of love and peace to an instrument for espionage and argue that European colonizers’ usage of pigeons in WWI and WWII have influenced the post-colonial status of the bird in the Indian subcontinent.

Paper long abstract:

Recently in India, some Pakistani pigeons have been detained as potential spies. In this talk, I trace the history of transformations in pigeons’ status in South Asia—from a bird of peace, a carrier of messages, a companion for play, an actor for expressing love, to a war animal blamed for espionage and for carrying “undercover” secretive missions. While exploring these transformations, I contend that a post-colonial discourse of “spy pigeons” in South Asia has emerged through a prolonged history of European colonial interaction with the bird, as evident through the pigeon’s usage in WWI and WWII. I conclude by showing how against this backdrop of “spy pigeons,” there is an emerging resistance in India and Pakistan that seeks to re-establish the bird’s status as an animal of love and play. This talk is based on mix-method approach involving ethnography, analysis of historical achieves, and a close examination of textual material including colonial and contemporary Urdu literature.

Panel Evid04b
Many are the pities of history: animals, plants and other forms of life in the historiography of the Global South II
  Session 1 Wednesday 31 March, 2021, -