The Anglo-Indian Community

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Social Science on 2011-12-24 17:25Z by Steven

The Anglo-Indian Community

American Journal of Sociology
Volume 40, Number 2 (September, 1934)
pages 165-179

Elmer L. Hedin
Halcyon, California

Of the several half-caste croups in Asia, the largest and most self-conscious is the Anglo-Indian Community. It numbers perhaps two hundred thousand persons who maintain themselves precariously on the outskirts of British-Indian officialdom, employed for the most part in clerical and other minor positions under the government. The life of the Anglo-Indian is one protracted struggle for status, occupational and social, and in that struggle he seems to be losing ground. Despised by both British and Indians, he may well be submerged in the turmoil of the present, trampled under by the march of India’s millions toward nationalism.

With the discovery of a sea route to eastern Asia in the last decade of the fifteenth century there began a new era of intimate and exten sive trade relationships between the nations of Europe and those of the Far East. The first European traders belonged to a world in many respects more tolerant than the present one, a world in which race prejudice was almost unknown. Consequently, more often than not they entered into more or less permanent marriage relationships with native women, a custom which resulted, after a few generations of trade and political expansion, in the presence of considerable numbers of half-castes. Such half-castes were in a special position and tended to form self-conscious communities, the largest, the best organized, and the most interesting of which is that community in India variously known as East Indian, Eurasian, or Anglo-Indian.

Some fifteen hundred years before Christ, India was conquered by a people speaking an Aryan language and allied to the present Europeans in blood. Later there were invasions of Greeks, Parthians, and Arabs. As a consequence, there was a not inconsiderable intermixture of invaders’ blood with that of the already hybrid population they found, fought with, and often ruled. But these mixtures took place so long ago that it is not easy to tell what proportion of white and what proportion of dark blood there is in any native of India. Furthermore, it has been and is customary for Europeans to think of all Indians as “colored” without regard to their possible…

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