This article examines the relationship between cosmopolitanism, nationalism, and hybridity in contemporary theory and the fiction of M.G. Vassanji about the Indian diaspora in east Africa. The interregional space of the Indian Ocean has been posited as a historical site of multicultural hybridity, a precursor to globalization, and a productively theoretical example of contemporary postcolonial cosmopolitanism. Investigating these ideas more closely, I look specifically at the case of modern-day Kenyans of Indian descent and how they fare in the postcolonial nation, particularly in their positioning as “hybrid” middlemen. Engaging with some of the dominant theories regarding the relationship between cosmopolitanism and nationalism—with a particular emphasis on the place of hybridity within these theories, which pivotally divides nationalism from cosmopolitanism—I use Vassanji’s work to interrogate commonly held theoretical assumptions.


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pp. 159-189
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