Hello! My name is Juliana Lu, and I’m a rising sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences from Dallas, Texas. My research under the Unstable Archives project, led by Professor Megan Robb, aims to build a born-digital archive of a rare family collection containing the personal artifacts of Elizabeth Sharaf un-Nisa, a native Indian woman who married a European man and moved with him to Britain.
This project considers the question, why is it important to research the lives of native women who cohabited with European men during the colonial period?” Studying these relationships is essential to understand colonialism in India in its fullest context, including the lives and statuses of its most silenced inhabitants — native women. Not only do interracial relationships provide examples of cultural mixing, in which native women engaged in both European practices and Indian traditions, but Western anxieties surrounding racial hybridity and the policies that arose to regulate it greatly influenced the development of colonial India itself.
Over the summer, I hope to help uncover the intricacies of such relationships while gaining insight into the digital humanities field. Challenges I may encounter include finding sufficient information about the Indian women in contact with European men, as these women are often excluded from historical accounts and official documents. However, my long-term goal is to shine more light on the lives of such women, starting with digitizing Elizabeth Sharaf un-Nisa’s fascinating collection.