India in Africa, Africa in India
Indian Ocean Cosmopolitanisms
Publication Year: 2008
India in Africa, Africa in India traces the longstanding interaction between these two regions, showing that the Indian Ocean world provides many examples of cultural flows that belie our understanding of globalization as a recent phenomenon. This region has had, and continues to have, an internal integrity that touches the lives of its citizens in their commerce, their cultural exchanges, and their concepts of each other and of themselves in the world. These connections have deep historical roots, and their dynamics are not attributable solely to the effects of European colonialism, modernity, or contemporary globalization -- although these forces have left their mark. The contributors to this interdisciplinary volume come from the fields of history, literature, dance, sociology, gender studies, and religion, making this collection unique in its recreation of an entire world too seldom considered as such.
Published by: Indiana University Press
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Pashington Obeng’s article, “Religion and Empire: Belief and Identity among African Indians of Karnataka, South India,” originally appeared in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion 71.1 (2003): 99–120. Permission from its publisher, Oxford University Press, to reprint is gratefully...
Introduction: Unrecorded Lives
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When anthropology student (and later, novelist) Amitav Ghosh set out from Oxford to Egypt in 1980 to find a suitable subject for his research, he may not have suspected the impact the trip would have on his life. He succeeded in completing the required tome for his degree and then went on to write In an Antique Land (1992), an unusually constructed book that...
1. Slave Trades and the Indian Ocean World
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The British in mid- nineteenth-century India were possibly the first to identify and characterize people there of “African” descent as a distinct ethnic category (Mamphilly 2001), largely as a result of grouping “Prize Negroes” from captured slaving ships in localities such as Aden, where 2,200 were landed between 1865 and 1870 (Ewald 2000), Cape...
Part 1: India in Africa
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2. The Indentured Experience: Indian Women in Colonial Natal
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“Writing history” is an important reclamatory project for marginalized groups and has become more and more important in South Africa in this post-apartheid period. This is not done, I believe, to find “identity” or “roots” in some kind of simplistic way. One engages in it, even if the outcome is tentative and uncertain. We are aware, before we begin, that our...
3. Shops and Stations: Rethinking Power and Privilege in British/Indian East Africa
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When Frederick Lugard, captain in the British East Africa Company, goes from En gland to East Africa in 1889 to explore and establish the company’s claim to East Africa, he recommends that “the Indian” be used in multi-tiered, somewhat contradictory, ways. Eventually, Indians are imported as indentured laborers to build the Uganda Railway—the practical...
4. Bhangra Remixes
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In the 1960s, the Punjabi farmer overcame his suspicion of hybrids to make India’s Green Revolution happen. Three decades later, the Punjabi artist, probably the farmer’s son, synthesized Afro-Caribbean rhythms with dhol beats to make Bhangra the most “happening” music in the world. An anxious siapa about Bhangra’s contamination by alien cultural sounds can be...
5. “Hindu” Dance Groups and Indophilie in Senegal: The Imagination of the Exotic Other
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At the beginning of my fieldwork period on dance in Senegal I was not very skilled in the Senegalese sabar dances. However, I was always very proud to tell people I was a dancer as well. I didn’t usually mention I practice Bharata Natyam, a South Indian dance style, as I thought people had probably never heard of such a thing as “Indian dance.” I was surprised...
6. The Idea of “India” in West African Vodun Artand Thought
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There are many ideas of India. As noted above by Trinidadian author V. S. Naipaul, “India” does not always refer to the peninsula region of South Asia, south of the Himalayas, between the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, where Hindus and others live and revere their gods. In west African Vodun art and thought, the idea of India is not simply one of geography...
7. Politics and Poetics of the Namesake: Barlen Pyamootoo’s Bénarès, Mauritius
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“How would it make you feel to live somewhere and know there was somewhere else with the same name in a different country?” Such is the question posed by Barlen Pyamootoo’s Bénarès (1999: 40). And it is perhaps as much the question that disconcerts as the context in which it arises. This turn-of-the-century Mauritian novel spans but a few...
Part 2: Africa in India
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8. Siddi as Mercenary or as African Success Story on the West Coast of India
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In ad 1489, political control over the island of Janjira located off the west coast town of Danda- Rajpuri in India was captured from the local coastal polities and brought into the domains of the Ahmadnagar Sultanate in Central India. This feat was attributed to the Abyssinian slave elite group of the Daulatabad Sultanate and has been enshrined in...
9. Religion and Empire: Belief and Identity among African Indians of Karnataka, South India
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African Asians’ historic presence, their religio-political, cultural, and military contributions, and their changing roles during the rise, expansion, and fall of Indian empires and dynasties from medieval times to the present day, is an under-researched subject. Much of the scholarship on Indian medieval and modern imperial history scarcely discusses the...
10. Marriage and Identity among the Sidis of Janjira and Sachin
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What is Africa in India? A constituent (and a product) of a cosmopolitan Indian Ocean cultural world? An African- Indian diasporic community? Independent communities of Sidis, or Indians who happen to be of African descent? Or perhaps all of these, or none of them? With the recent spurt in interest in Africans in India and around the Indian Ocean...
11. African Indians in Bollywood: Kamal Amrohi’s Razia Sultan
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Contradicting historical evidence, colonial and post- colonial texts often (mis)represent the past by configuring it through contemporary hybridized and fractured eyes, resulting in a skewed viewpoint that not only dilutes our perception of the present but, perhaps more importantly, mitigates our understanding of the past, which may lead to a dangerously totalizing...
List of Contributors
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Page Count: 312
Illustrations: 21 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2008