Anglo-Indians and Minority Politics in South Asia: Race, Boundary Making and Communal Nationalism

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy on 2017-10-17 01:54Z by Steven

Anglo-Indians and Minority Politics in South Asia: Race, Boundary Making and Communal Nationalism

Routledge
2018
322 pages
4 B/W Illustrations
Hardback ISBN: 9781138847224

Uther Charlton-Stevens, Associate Professor
Institute of World Economy and Finance
Volgograd State University, Russia

Anglo-Indians are a mixed-race, Christian and Anglophone minority community which arose in India during the long period of European colonialism. An often neglected part of the British ‘Raj’, their presence complicates the traditional binary through which British imperialism in South Asia is viewed – of ruler and ruled, coloniser and colonised. This book looks at how Anglo-Indians illuminate the history of minority politics in the transition from British colonial rule in South Asia to independence.

The book analyses how the provisions in the Indian Constitution relating to Anglo-Indian cultural, linguistic and religious autonomy were implemented in the years following 1950. It discusses how effective the measures designed to protect Anglo-Indian employment by the state and Anglo-Indian educational institutions under the pressures of Indian national politics were. Presenting an in-depth account of this minority community in South Asia, this book will be of interest to those studying South Asian History, Colonial History and South Asian Politics.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. East Indians
  • 2. The ‘Eurasian Problem’
  • 3. Becoming Anglo-Indians
  • 4. Making a Minority
  • 5. Escapisms of Empire
  • 6. Constituting the Nation
  • 7. Conclusion
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The Anglo Indians: A 500-year History

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2017-09-17 03:25Z by Steven

The Anglo Indians: A 500-year History

Niyogi Books
2014
228 pages
275 black and white photographs
Size: 232 x 150mm
70 gsm book printing paper
Flexiback ISBN: 978-93-81523-76-6

S. Muthiah and Harry MacLure

The Book reveals that small though it be, the Anglo Indians are a community with a great heritage. It is a story of disappointments and of hopes, of uncertainty being a part of their lives from the day they were born. It is also the story of a people who found happiness and satisfaction in the various niches they were fitted into.

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‘The Eurasian Question’: The postcolonial dilemmas of three colonial mixed-ancestry groups

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Forthcoming Media on 2017-03-21 01:35Z by Steven

‘The Eurasian Question’: The postcolonial dilemmas of three colonial mixed-ancestry groups compared

Leiden University
Leiden, Netherlands
Duration 2013-2017

Liesbeth Rosen Jacobson

Eurasians were privileged groups of mixed ancestry in Asian colonial societies. They were the result of unions between European males and indigenous women. They neither belonged to the colonizers, nor to the colonized. When colonization came to an end, the Eurasians found themselves in a difficult position. The European rulers, on which their status was based, were gone. The new indigenous rulers usually perceived them suspiciously as colonial remnants and sometimes even as traitors. In this chaotic, sometimes violent situation, they were forced to make a choice, albeit a preliminary one, between staying in the former colony or leaving, usually for the European metropolis. This was a serious dilemma since they only knew the metropolis from stories and lessons at school. The point of departure of this research is formed by the Eurasian group of the former Dutch Indies: the Indo-Europeans. However, I compare the decision making process of this group with those of similar groups from two other Asian colonies, the Anglo-Indians from the British Indies and the Métis people from French Indochina

Read the entire article about the project here.

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Maria on Bhowani Junction

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive on 2016-08-15 17:14Z by Steven

Maria on Bhowani Junction

Archive to Blockbuster
2016-08-11

Maria Kaladeen, Associate Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies
University of London

The happiness I feel in encountering old movies about dual-heritage characters and communities is inevitably marred by the regurgitation of tired and offensive stereotypes about these individuals. The 1956 film Bhowani Junction, based on John Masters’ 1954 novel of the same title, is no exception. However the film is fascinating in spite of these stereotypes because it ultimately, and belatedly, makes a powerful statement about the rights of those of mixed heritage to self-identify…

Read the entire article here.

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Between Two Worlds: Racial Identity in Alice Perrin’s The Stronger Claim

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2015-11-27 01:55Z by Steven

Between Two Worlds: Racial Identity in Alice Perrin’s The Stronger Claim

Victorian Literature and Culture
Volume 42, Special Issue 3, September 2014
pages 491-508
DOI: 10.1017/S1060150314000114

Melissa Edmundson Makala
University of South Carolina

Like many Anglo-Indian novelists of her generation, Alice Perrin (1867–1934) gained fame through the publication and popular reception of several domestic novels based in India and England. However, within the traditional Anglo-Indian romance plot, Perrin often incorporated subversive social messages highlighting racial and cultural problems prevalent in India during the British Raj. Instead of relying solely on one-dimensional, sentimental British heroes and heroines, Perrin frequently chose non-British protagonists who reminded her contemporary readers of very real Anglo-Indian racial inequalities they might wish to forget. In The Stronger Claim (1903), Perrin creates a main character who has a mixed-race background, but who, contrary to prevailing public opinion of the time, is a multi-dimensional, complex, and perhaps most importantly, sympathetic character positioned between two worlds. Even as Victorian India was coming to an end, many of the problems that had plagued the British Raj intensified in the early decades of the twentieth century. Perrin’s novel is one of the earliest attempts to present a sympathetic and heroic mixed-race protagonist, one whose presence asked readers to question the lasting negative effects of race relations and racial identity in both India and England.

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The legend of Merle

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive, Oceania, Passing, Women on 2015-11-11 02:33Z by Steven

The legend of Merle

The Age
Docklands, Victoria, Australia
2002-08-21


Merle Oberon (1943)

She was one of the most glamorous stars of the 1930s and ’40s. A screen siren with smouldering looks, exotic features and almond-shaped eyes. Merle Oberon was described as graceful and hauntingly beautiful.

On her ascent, in 1939, she captivated the world in the box office Hollywood hit, Wuthering Heights, playing Cathy opposite Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff.

From the other side of the globe, Tasmanians glowed with pride. Oberon, according to a biography that read like a Hollywood film script, had been born in Hobart, the daughter of an upper-class white colonial family. She left Tasmania for India after her distinguished father died in a hunting accident, and was raised there by aristocratic godparents.

If Errol Flynn was the island state’s favourite son, Merle Oberon was its treasured daughter. In 1978, the Hobart Town Hall hosted a function attended by well-known local identities to welcome her back. Decades later, Tasmanians proudly recount stories and anecdotes about the hometown girl who blazed her way to Hollywood. Only Oberon wasn’t born in Tasmania. She was Anglo-Indian

Read the entire article here.

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Racial Passing and the Raj

Posted in Asian Diaspora, History, Live Events, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations, Passing on 2015-01-02 03:10Z by Steven

Racial Passing and the Raj

American Historical Association
129th Annual Meeting
New York, New York
2015-01-02 through 2015-01-05

Saturday, 2015-01-03, 15:10 EST (Local Time)
Park Suite 3 (Sheraton New York)

Uther Charlton-Stevens
Volgograd State University, Volgograd, Russia

Racial passing is a subject that has attracted much attention in the historiography of the Americas, as well as other settings such as South Africa. It has hitherto been overlooked in the South Asian context. Mixed race groups in South Asia have until recently also been largely neglected by historians, while attracting more attention from geographers and anthropologists.

Mixed race groups such as Anglo-Indians have been perceived as marginal, despite existing on the fault line of constructed racial difference. In many ways they embody the colonial connection and the transnational most tangibly, and through their mere presence make problematic the binary of ruler and ruled, colonizer and colonized. The British perceived not only those of mixed race but also poor whites of Indian domicile as undermining their racial prestige in the eyes of their Indian subjects, treating the two groups as essentially one class. However the socio-racial and class-based hierarchies which the British sought to erect and to police motivated widespread attempts at transgression, resulting in widespread passing in hopes of upward mobility along the spectrum from Indian Christians to mixed-race Anglo-Indians to supposedly unmixed Domiciled Europeans and even into the ranks of the British population, such as those who came out to take senior positions on the railways. This world of racial mixing and transgression was one which the British found unsettling and which later Indian Hindu nationalists, concerned with concepts of purity, also had reasons to overlook. Exploring racial passing across the boundaries erected by the Raj should yield us far greater insight into the nature of race in late colonial India and the lasting impact of the imperial presence.

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Race, Religion and Law in Colonial India: Trials of an Interracial Family by Chandra Mallampalli (review) [Epstein]

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, History, Law, Media Archive on 2014-09-30 20:42Z by Steven

Race, Religion and Law in Colonial India: Trials of an Interracial Family by Chandra Mallampalli (review) [Epstein]

Victorian Studies
Volume 56, Number 3, Spring 2014
pages 519-520
DOI: 10.1353/vic.2014.0064

James Epstein, Distinguished Professor of History
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

Mallampalli, Chandra, Race, Religion and Law in Colonial India: Trials of an Interracial Family (Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011)

The case of Abraham v. Abraham (1854–63) was extraordinary. It took nearly a decade to decide as it passed through the district civil court at Bellary in southern India, the appeals court at Madras, and finally the Privy Council’s Judicial Committee. The case repeatedly confounded legal categories based alternately on Hindu and English law and the fixed categories of Britain’s post-1857 colonial regime. In Race, Religion and Law in Colonial India, Chandra Mallampalli skillfully guides readers through the intricacies of the case, studying the social world inhabited by one family drawn into litigation and measuring the gap between their life-world and the protocols of the court. The period was one of imperial crisis and transition, as the British Crown assumed direct control over Indian territories following the 1857 Rebellion and authorities adopted a more cautious approach in governing Indian society. As the author writes, the more conservative turn of liberal governance “gave rise to an imperial multiculturalism, a policy of classifying colonial subjects according to race, religion, caste, or ethnicity,” while accentuating the difference between colonial subjects and colonizers (5).

Matthew Abraham was born into a Tamil-speaking family of “untouchables” (paraiyar community) who had converted to Catholicism. He subsequently converted to Protestantism and married Charlotte Fox, a Eurasian of Anglo-Portuguese descent. Matthew was part of the mobile group of camp followers who gravitated to the garrison town of Bellary. Access to the colonial culture centered on Bellary’s cantonment. The town’s thriving bazaar economy gave scope for Matthew’s enterprising talents and ambition; the locality’s social fluidity proved important to his self-fashioning. At the time of his marriage in 1820, he was working in the arsenal and selling military surplus items. Fairly soon he owned a distillery and most crucially was granted the East India Company contract to produce and supply liquor to the troops and local retailers—an irony, given his conversion to Evangelical Protestantism. The family prospered. Matthew assumed English customs and associated predominately with Europeans. He belonged to the class of doras, persons of local prominence, and was identified as an east Indian, a term usually reserved for those of mixed European and native blood. By a twist of fate, an oversight perhaps, the underlying complexities of this personal success story emerged in court records and now again in this fascinating book. Matthew died having left no will. His wife and his brother, Francis, who was involved in the family’s expanding business networks, fell out; they were unable to agree on a settlement or a legal heir, a necessary condition for their business dealings. From Matthew’s death in 1842 until Charlotte filed suit in 1854, the Abrahams “were a family in search of a law” (99). Once the case came to court, it produced a huge archive, with evidence taken from 271 witnesses and a series of conflicting verdicts.

In simplest terms, the case turned on whether Hindu or English law pertained. The Anglo-Indian system of civil or personal law mandated that Indians were governed according to their own laws whether Hindu or Muslim. As Mallampalli notes, a policy initially meant to promote religious tolerance also helped to create the fiction of coherent religious communities. The law seemed incapable of accommodating the intermingling of conditions and fluid identities that characterized the lives of the Abrahams. The legal agency of Charlotte and Francis depended on their ability to exploit the legal options open to them (in a sense, this is true of all legal proceedings). Hindu law worked to the advantage of male heirs. Charlotte and her legal councilors insisted that the family had been completely assimilated into the religion, customs, and lifestyle of Europeans and was therefore subject to English law with its emphasis on individual enterprise and ownership. Matthew’s brother was merely a business agent and subordinate family member. In contrast, Francis argued for continuity with Hindu tradition and his and Matthew’s undivided brotherhood, which would leave him as sole family heir. In this version, despite their Christian religion and European attitudes, the two brothers had been born into a class of persons who continued to observe the practice of Hindu…

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Race as freedom: how Cedric Dover and Barack Obama became black

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Barack Obama, Biography, History, Identity Development/Psychology, United States on 2014-02-15 21:03Z by Steven

Race as freedom: how Cedric Dover and Barack Obama became black

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 37, Issue 2
pages 222-240
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2012.715661

Nico Slate, Associate Professor of History
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Born across racial lines, Cedric Dover and Barack Obama both came to identify with the African American community. By contrasting the lives and ideas of two mixed-race individuals, one born in Calcutta and the other in Hawaii, this article examines cosmopolitanism, racial formation and the promise of the ‘post-racial’. A ‘Eurasian’ intellectual born in Calcutta in 1904, Dover developed a coloured cosmopolitanism that mirrors in revealing ways Obama’s approach to race. Both men embraced blackness while transcending the boundaries of race and nation. Dover and Obama developed a conception of race as freedom—not freedom from race or of a particular race, but the freedom to embrace race without sacrificing other affiliations.

We must be both “racial” and anti-racial at the same time, which really means that nationalism and internationalism must be combined in the same philosophy. Cedric Dover (1947, 222)

I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible. Barack Obama (2008)

Born a Eurasian in Calcutta in 1904. Cedric Dover died in England in 1961 a ‘coloured’ man. Born to a white mother in Hawaii in 1961 and raised partially in Indonesia. Barack Obama became the first African…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Public genealogies: Documents, bodies and nations in Anglo-Indian railway family histories

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, Social Science on 2013-10-12 00:18Z by Steven

Public genealogies: Documents, bodies and nations in Anglo-Indian railway family histories

Contributions to Indian Sociology
Volume 35, Number 3 (October 2001)
pages 355-388
DOI: 10.1177/006996670103500303

Laura Bear
Department of Anthropology
The London School of Economics

This article argues for an approach to archives and documents that focusses on their material effects. It traces the impact of the East Indian Railway Nationality Files on the intimate stories of family genealogies among Anglo-Indian railway workers. The procedures of proof and record-keeping associated with these files (kept from 1927-50) displaced Anglo-Indian family histories into a public realm of state documents and archives, making these the final arbiters and guardians of their origins. Anglo-Indian workers often protested their assigned status by writing to the bureaucracy, especially as family members were regularly classed differently by distinct institutions. They sought a continuous public genealogy for themselves. Their interest in doing this and the practices of the nationality archive reveal the new conjunctions between political rights and family origins in Indian civil society. Increasingly, both the jati of nationalists and the enumerable community of colonial bureaucrats rested on a genealogical imperative, which excluded Anglo-Indians because of their ‘mixed’ origins from belonging to either India or Britain. The material effects of this historical moment and the archive are visible in contemporary conversations with Anglo-Indian railway families. They tell stories of disappearing documents, of ghosts disturbed by lack of an archive, of their bodies as treacherous records of identity and of the impossibilities of being an Indian community.

Read or purchase the article here.

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