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Tamara Fernando

Tamara is a historian of the nineteenth and early twentieth century Indian Ocean. Her research has three main focal points: the construction of scientific knowledge about the ocean, the connected scientific, intellectual, and labour histories of the Indian Ocean between the Middle East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, and the question of how the scientific archive addresses histories of the non-human. 

Tamara's research

Her current research project, “Molluscs and Men: Pearling Labour and Environments in the Indian Ocean 1880-1925” is a history of three major sites of natural pearling in the Indian Ocean: the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Mannar between South India and Ceylon and the Mergui Archipelago in Southern Burma.

Tamara holds a BA Hons. in History and Literature from Harvard College, and an MPhil in History from Cambridge, which she completed as the John Eliot Scholar in Jesus College, Cambridge. She will complete her PhD at Cambridge in 2022. 


(Advance access) “Seeing like the Sea: A Multispecies History of the Ceylon Pearl Fishery”, Past & Present

(forthcoming) with Sarah Qidwai, “South Asia’s Place in the History of Evolutionary Thought” in Bernard Lightman ed. Global Histories of Science and Religion

August 2020, “පර්සියානු බොක්කෙහි සිට ලංකාව වෙත මුතු කිමිදෙන්නන්ගේ සංක්‍රමණ, 1881-1925” [The Migration of Persian Gulf Pearl Divers to Ceylon, 1881-1925], ප්‍රවාද [Pravada, Journal of the Social Scientists Association, Sri Lanka], 35 

Public History 

2021 April, with Kalyani Ramnath, “Histories of the Enslaved in the Indian Ocean World: In Conversation with Nira Wickramasinghe,” on Borderlines, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (CSSAME)

2021 April, “Ecology’s Ghosts,” in Hypocrite Reader, Issue 97

2020 July, “Death at the Pearl Fishery,” in Hypocrite Reader, Issue 95