Midnight’s Orphans: Anglo-Indians in Post/Colonial Literature

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2011-10-17 21:22Z by Steven

Midnight’s Orphans: Anglo-Indians in Post/Colonial Literature

Peter Lang
265 pages
Weight: 0.370 kg, 0.816 lbs
Paperback ISBN: 978-3-03910-848-0
Series: Studies in Asia-Pacific “Mixed Race”

Glenn D’Cruz, Senior Lecturer
School of Communication and Creative Arts
Deakin University, Australia

Anglo-Indians are the human legacy of European colonialism. These descendants of European men and Indian women regularly appear as disconsolate and degenerate figures in colonial and postcolonial literature, much to the chagrin of contemporary Anglo-Indians. Many significant writers, such as Rudyard Kipling, Maud Diver, John Masters, Salman Rushdie and Hari Kunzru, have created Anglo-Indian characters to represent the complex racial, social and political currents of India’s colonial past and postcolonial present.

This book is the first detailed study of Anglo-Indians in literature. Rather than simply dismissing the representation of Anglo-Indians in literary texts as offensive stereotypes, the book identifies the conditions for the emergence of these stereotypes through close readings of key novels, such as Bhowani Junction, Midnight’s Children and The Impressionist. It also examines the work of contemporary Anglo-Indian writers such as Allan Sealy and Christopher Cyrill.

Presenting a persuasive argument against ‘image criticism’, the book underscores the importance of contextualizing literary texts, and makes a timely contribution to debates about ‘mixed race’ identities, minoritarian literature and interculturalism.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Chapter One: Seven Deadly Stereotypes
  • Chapter Two: Regulating Bodies: Dangerous ‘Others’ and Colonial Governmentality
  • Chapter Three: Beyond the Pale: Imperial Power and Scientific Regimes of Truth
  • Chapter Four: The Poor Relation: Social Science and the Production of Anglo-Indian Identity
  • Chapter Five: Midnight’s Orphans: Stereotypes in Postcolonial Literature
  • Chapter Six: ‘The Good Australians’: Australian Multiculturalism and Anglo-Indian Literature
  • Chapter Seven: Conclusion: Bringing it all Back Home
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Distancing the Proximate Other: Hybridity and Maud Diver’s Candles in the Wind

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2010-05-09 04:15Z by Steven

Distancing the Proximate Other: Hybridity and Maud Diver’s Candles in the Wind

Twentieth Century Literature
Volume 50, Number 2 (Summer, 2004)
pages 107-140

Loretta M. Mijares

The half-caste out here falls between two stools, that’s the truth.
—Maud Diver, Candles in the Wind

Miscegenation has long been recognized as one of the recurrent tropes of colonial discourse, and recent work has convincingly demonstrated that it was often enlisted in efforts to justify more authoritarian colonial rule. Critics such as Nancy Paxton and Jenny Sharpe have drawn attention to the ubiquitous theme of interracial romance and marriage in domestic fiction written by the British in India, a body of literature previously relegated to the genre of romance and dismissed as what Margaret Stieg calls “sub-literature” (3). While critics have begun to recognize that the focus of this large body of fiction on domestic arrangements expresses anxiety about interracial liaisons and miscegenation, few pay adequate attention either to the historical reality of the Eurasian community in existence during the periods they analyze or to the Eurasian characters in these works of fiction and their particular ideological function. The tendency of literary critics discussing miscegenation to categorize Eurasians and “natives” as equal threats in the domestic sphere is itself evidence of the success of this body of fiction’s strategic response to historical Eurasians: the disconcertingly familiar Eurasian is converted in fiction from proximate other to distant other, thereby relocating the anxiety generated by both the uncanniness of the Eurasian and the material threat this population posed to smooth colonial rule…

Read the entire article here.

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Educating Seeta: The Anglo-Indian Family Romance and the Poetics of Indirect Rule

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2010-05-07 22:22Z by Steven

Educating Seeta: The Anglo-Indian Family Romance and the Poetics of Indirect Rule

Ohio State University Press
May 2010
161 pages
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8142-1126-7
CD ISBN: 978-0-8142-9224-2

Shuchi Kapila, Associate Professor of English
Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa

Even though Edward Said’s Orientalism inspired several generations of scholars to study the English novel’s close involvement with colonialism, they have not considered how English novels themselves were radically altered by colonialism. In Educating Seeta, Shuchi Kapila argues that the paradoxes of indirect rule in British India were negotiated in “family romances” which encoded political struggle in the language of domestic and familial civility. A mixture of domestic ideology and liberal politics, these are Anglo-Indian romances, written by British colonials who lived in India during a period of indirect colonial rule. Instead of providing neat conclusions and smooth narratives, they become a record of the limits of liberal colonialism. They thus offer an important supplement to Victorian novels, extend the study of nineteenth-century domestic ideology, and offer a new perspective on colonial culture. Kapila demonstrates that popular writing about India and, by implication, other colonies is an important supplement to the high Victorian novel and indispensable to our understanding of nineteenth-century English literature and culture. Her nuanced study of British writing about indirect rule in India will reshape our understanding of Victorian domestic ideologies, class formation, and gender politics.

Read the introduction here.

Educating Seeta makes the case that representations of such interracial relationships in the tropes of domestic fiction create a fantasy of liberal colonial rule in nineteenth-century British India. British colonials in India were preoccupied with appearing as a benevolent, civilizing power to their British and colonial subjects. They produced a vast archive of writing, which includes memoirs, official and private correspondence, and histories, in which they confronted their anxieties about their motives for colonial rule. I expand the definition of “family romance” to include not only interracial love between an English man and an Indian woman, but also political conflict represented as domestic drama featuring Indian women who appear in many roles: as widowed queens who act like recalcitrant daughters; as wives who bring domestic felicity but also usurp the English household; as heroic and rebellious natives; and as compliant and educable subjects. I argue that these seemingly disparate representations of Indian women all have the structure of a family romance, a romance that portrays the permutations of interracial domesticity as a political allegory of indirect colonial rule. This Anglo-Indian family romance—as I will call it here—thus becomes a particularly appropriate literary narrative that enables British writers to justify colonial rule as positive, educative, and benevolent. Two concepts, thus, become central to this study: first, that domestic fiction provides the tropes in which liberal British fantasies about India are represented, and second, that the presence of Indian women signals sites of crises in these fantasies…

…The death of the Indian woman in many of these romances, signaling that interracial love is not socially viable, is an instance of such narrative failure. For instance, in Flora Annie Steel’s On the Face of the Waters, Zora dies early, setting the English hero, Jim Douglas, free to love an Englishwoman. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, for instance in the Orientalist idealization of the Indian woman in Maud Diver’s Lilamani, in which interracial marriage between Neville Sinclair and Lilamani heralds a new understanding between cultures with the ultimate goal of “civilizing” other cultures into European ways of life. Even Kipling, that canonized recorder of Anglo-Indian life, was unable to give us a full-length study of an interracial relationship. In most of his short stories, such relationships are unconsummated and end tragically.  Anglo-Indian romancers also seem reluctant to represent mixedrace children. When they do enter the picture, they are depicted with the same fear and horror that greeted miscegenation among white and black populations in nineteenth-century America. Despite these narrative failures, however, Anglo-Indian romancers do make a foray into imagining mixed households and interracial marriages. They execute a variety of formal explorations, which often surprise readers into confronting unorthodox outcomes about the possibilities of mixed race sociality…

…Until the recent wave of colonial cultural studies, most historians ignored interracial romances between European colonizers and native women as a marginal and colorful byproduct of colonialism that did not teach us much about colonial society. One reason for this neglect could be that interracial love, and its corollary, the possibility of miscegenation, while it has always existed in colonial societies, has also been proscribed in official ideologies of most such societies. In the case of colonial India particularly, the absence of discussion about interracial relationships could be because such relationships were visible largely in the last two decades of the eighteenth century…

…A second kind of nineteenth-century interracial romance is usually in the high Orientalist mode and does not dwell on either the contribution of the Indian companions to the creation of a syncretic upper-class culture, the role of such alliances in the acquisition and management of political power, or the process by which they were justified in private and political circles. Such exercises in Orientalist fiction include Sydney Owenson’s The Missionary: an Indian Tale (1811), Maud Diver’s Lilamani (1911), and Philip Meadows Taylor’s Seeta (1872). The women in these novels, melancholy, “idealized,” exotic beauties who represent not only the glories of Hindu culture but also its repressive aspects, are rescued by Englishmen. The attempt to match two glorious civilizations flounders when the inevitable racial differences are confronted. Maud Diver’s trilogy, of which Lilamani is the first part, is unusual in taking the story through many generations. Most such interracial stories come to an unhappy end before their authors confront the question of mixed

…The book is divided into two parts consisting of two chapters, each of which begins with a historical introduction to the context of interracial romances. The first part includes two chapters: the first studies the epistolary record of an interracial romance between an Englishman, William Linneaus Gardner, and his aristocratic Muslim wife, Mah Munzalool nissa Begum; the second chapter focuses on Bithia Mary Croker’s early twentieth-century romances, which represent interracial relationships at a time when official proscriptions against them were really strong. Both chapters explore British representations of mixed domesticity; the construction of class, racial, and national identity in the mixed household; and the place of the Indian woman in this literary-political domain. By focusing on the mixed household as either a place of intense social negotiation or of a gothic, traumatic discovery, I show that interracial domesticity is a nodal point for the cultural and political negotiations of Britain’s Indian experience. Mixed households contest the values of English domesticity and reconfigure interracial relationships away from the predictable tropes of rescue and discovery to an exploration of how class and social power were acquired by colonial elites…

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