Reading Migration and Culture: The World of East African Indian Literature

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Palgrave Macmillan, Jan 12, 2013 - Foreign Language Study - 245 pages
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Reading Migration and Culture locates itself within the recent preoccupation in literary studies with modernity, migration and diaspora, and the theories that are deployed in trying to account for them. Its central argument is that 'global' readings of migration in relation to a general 'postcolonial condition' elides local referents of history, social life and geography.

East African Asians, a term used to refer to people of sub-continental Indian descent in the region, occupy an important, yet often neglected role, in the history of the former British Empire. Unlike their counterparts in the Caribbean, Fiji and South Africa, they have had a closer connection to the India, which has been an important focus of their imagination. This book examines the local histories and discourses that underpin East African Asian literature against the categories that have evolved for conceptualizing diaspora, especially within postcolonial studies. Its focus is on the cultural codes that diasporic East African Asians have forged in an attempt to come to terms with a history of dislocation and how those codes find form in writing. In probing these issues, it opens up larger questions of alienation, domesticity, material culture, gastropolitics, memory, nationalism and the allegorical construction of gender and sexuality.

In a significant sense, this book shows that East African Asian writing is rooted in a fundamental sense of the local East African scene but at the same time draws its identity from a wider cartography that includes the Indian sub-continent, Africa and the Euro-American sites in which the majority of the writers live. Writers covered include M.G. Vassanji, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Nanji Kalidas Mehta, Peter Nazareth, Jameela Siddiqi, Shailja Patel, Bahadur Tejani and Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla.


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1 The Pleasures and Tribulations of Migration
2 Indian Ocean Travel and Belonging in Nanji Kalidas Mehtas Dream HalfExpressed
3 Gastropolitics and Diasporic SelfWriting
4 Imaging Africa Making Asians
5 Gender Sexuality and Community
6 Miscegenation and Culture
7 Romancing Decolonization
8 Memory Metafiction and Modernity

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About the author (2013)

Dan Ojwang is Senior Lecturer of African Literature in the School of Literature and Language Studies at University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He has published widely on East African Asian writing. His interests include literary cultures of the Indian Ocean world and contemporary African fiction.