East Indian Music
Peter Manuel Temple University Press, 2000 Library of Congress ML3565.M37 2000 | Dewey Decimal 780.899140729
Trinidadian sitarist, composer, and music authority Mangal Patasar once remarked and tan-singing, "You take a capsule from India, leave it here for a hundred years, and this is what you get." Patasar was referring to what may be the most sophisticated and distinctive art form cultivated among the one and a half million East Indians whose ancestors migrated as indentured laborers from colonial India to the West Indies between 1845 and 1917. Known in Trinidad and Guyana as "tan-singing" or "local-classical music" and in Suriname as "baithak gana" ("sitting music"), tan-singing has evolved in to a unique idiom, embodying the rich poetic and musical heritage brought from India as modified by a diaspora group largely cut off from its ancestral homeland.
In recent decades, however, tan-singing has been declining, regarded as quaint and crude by younger generations raised on MTV, Hindi film music, and disco. At the same time, Indo-Caribbeans have been participating in their countries' economic, political, and cultural lives to a far greater extent than previously. Accompanying this participation has been a lively cultural revival, encompassing both an enhanced assertion of Indianness and a spirit of innovative syncretism. One of the most well-known products of this process is chutney, a dynamic music and dance phenomenon that is simultaneously a folk revival and a pop hybrid. In Trinidad, it has also been the vehicle for a controversial form of female empowerment and an agent of a new, more inclusive, conception of national identity.
Thus, East Indian Music in the West Indies is a portrait of a diaspora community in motion. It documents the social and cultural development of a people "without history," a people who have sometimes been dismissed as foreigners who merely perpetuate the culture of the homeland rather than becoming "truly" Caribbean. Professor Manuel shows how inaccurate this characterization is. On the one hand, in the form of tan-singing, it examines the distinctiveness of traditional Indo-Caribbean musical culture. On the other, in the form of chutney, it examines the new assertiveness and syncretism of Indo-Caribbean popular music.
Students of Indo-Caribbean music and curious world-music fans alike will be fascinated by Professor Manuel's guided tour through the complex and exciting world of Indo-Caribbean musical culture.
In Encoding Race, Encoding Class Sareeta Amrute explores the work and private lives of highly skilled Indian IT coders in Berlin to reveal the oft-obscured realities of the embodied, raced, and classed nature of cognitive labor. In addition to conducting fieldwork and interviews in IT offices as well as analyzing political cartoons, advertisements, and reports on white-collar work, Amrute spent time with a core of twenty programmers before, during, and after their shifts. She shows how they occupy a contradictory position, as they are racialized in Germany as temporary and migrant grunt workers, yet their middle-class aspirations reflect efforts to build a new, global, and economically dominant India. The ways they accept and resist the premises and conditions of their work offer new potentials for alternative visions of living and working in neoliberal economies. Demonstrating how these coders' cognitive labor realigns and reimagines race and class, Amrute conceptualizes personhood and migration within global capitalism in new ways.
Gandhi’s Printing Press
Isabel Hofmeyr Harvard University Press, 2013 Library of Congress DS481.G3H53 2013 | Dewey Decimal 954.035092
When Gandhi as a young lawyer in South Africa began fashioning the tenets of his political philosophy, he was absorbed by a seemingly unrelated enterprise: creating a newspaper, Indian Opinion. In Gandhi’s Printing Press Isabel Hofmeyr provides an account of how this footnote to a career shaped the man who would become the world-changing Mahatma.
Indian communities have existed in the Gulf emirate of Dubai for more than a century. Since the 1970s, workers from South Asia have flooded into the emirate, enabling Dubai's huge construction boom. They now compose its largest noncitizen population. Though many migrant families are middle-class and second-, third-, or even fourth-generation residents, Indians cannot become legal citizens of the United Arab Emirates. Instead, they are all classified as temporary guest workers. In Impossible Citizens, Neha Vora draws on her ethnographic research in Dubai's Indian-dominated downtown to explore how Indians live suspended in a state of permanent temporariness.
While their legal status defines them as perpetual outsiders, Indians are integral to the Emirati nation-state and its economy. At the same time, Indians—even those who have established thriving diasporic neighborhoods in the emirate—disavow any interest in formally belonging to Dubai and instead consider India their home. Vora shows how these multiple and conflicting logics of citizenship and belonging contribute to new understandings of contemporary citizenship, migration, and national identity, ones that differ from liberal democratic models and that highlight how Indians, rather than Emiratis, are the quintessential—yet impossible—citizens of Dubai.
Indians in Kenya
Sana Aiyar Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress DT433.545.E27A39 2015 | Dewey Decimal 305.891406762
Sana Aiyar chronicles the strategies by which Indians sought a political voice in Kenya, from the beginning of colonial rule to independence. She examines how the strands of Indians’ diasporic identity influenced Kenya’s leadership—from partnering with Europeans to colonize East Africa, to collaborating with Africans to battle racial inequality.
In this ambitious new history of the antiapartheid struggle, Jon Soske places India and the Indian diaspora at the center of the African National Congress’s development of an inclusive philosophy of nationalism. In so doing, Soske combines intellectual, political, religious, urban, and gender history to tell a story that is global in reach while remaining grounded in the everyday materiality of life under apartheid.
Even as Indian independence provided black South African intellectuals with new models of conceptualizing sovereignty, debates over the place of the Indian diaspora in Africa (the “also-colonized other”) forced a reconsideration of the nation’s internal and external boundaries. In response to the traumas of Partition and the 1949 Durban Riots, a group of thinkers in the ANC, centered in the Indian Ocean city of Durban and led by ANC president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Luthuli, developed a new philosophy of nationhood that affirmed South Africa’s simultaneously heterogeneous and fundamentally African character.
Internal Frontiers is a major contribution to postcolonial and Indian Ocean studies and charts new ways of writing about African nationalism.
Descendants of indentured laborers brought from India to the Caribbean between 1845 and 1917 comprise more than forty percent of Trinidad’s population today. While many Indo-Trinidadians identify themselves as Indian, what “Indian” signifies—about nationalism, gender, culture, caste, race, and religion—in the Caribbean is different from what it means on the subcontinent. Yet the ways that “Indianness” is conceived of and performed in India and in Trinidad have historically been, and remain, intimately related. Offering an innovative analysis of how ideas of Indian identity negotiated within the Indian diaspora in Trinidad affect cultural identities “back home,” Tejaswini Niranjana models a necessary project: comparative research across the global South, scholarship that decenters the “first world” West as the referent against which postcolonial subjects understand themselves and are understood by others.
Niranjana draws on nineteenth-century travel narratives, anthropological and historical studies of Trinidad, Hindi film music, and the lyrics, performance, and reception of chutney-soca and calypso songs to argue that perceptions of Indian female sexuality in Trinidad have long been central to the formation and disruption of dominant narratives of nationhood, modernity, and normative sexuality in India. She illuminates debates in India about “the woman question” as they played out in the early-twentieth-century campaign against indentured servitude in the tropics. In so doing, she reveals India’s disavowal of the indentured woman—viewed as morally depraved by her forced labor in Trinidad—as central to its own anticolonial struggle. Turning to the present, Niranjana looks to Trinidad’s most dynamic site of cultural negotiation: popular music. She describes how contested ideas of Indian femininity are staged by contemporary Trinidadian musicians—male and female, of both Indian and African descent—in genres ranging from new hybrids like chutney-soca to the older but still vibrant music of Afro-Caribbean calypso.
Like many other small towns in Trinidad, Felicity is populated almost entirely by East Indians. In their Caribbean exile, the residents of Felicity have created and recreated the music of their Hindu ancestors. Music of Hindu Trinidad is a fascinating account of the history and cultural significance of Hindu music that explores its symbolic, aesthetic, and psychological aspects while asking the larger question of how this music has contributed to the formation of identity in the midst of their great diaspora.
Myers details the musical repertory of Felicity, which is based largely on north Indian genres including the traditional Bhojpuri folk songs and drumming styles brought by the first indentured laborers in 1845. In her engaging exploration of the fate of Indian classical music and new popular styles such as Hindi calypso, soca, and chutney, she even finds herself at the ancestral home of Trinidadian V. S. Naipaul in India. Copiously illustrated and accompanied by a compact disk, Music of Hindu Trinidad is a model ethnographic study.
Kelly opens new questions about dialogue, colonial power, and
changing conditions of political possibility by examining the
connection between politics and sexual morality in the British
colony of Fiji from 1929 to 1932.
A groundbreaking book that seeks to understand dance as labor, Sweating Saris examines dancers not just as aesthetic bodies but as transnational migrant workers and wage earners who negotiate citizenship and gender issues.
Srinivasan merges ethnography, history, critical race theory, performance and post-colonial studies among other disciplines to investigate the embodied experience of Indian dance. The dancers’ sweat stained and soaked saris, the aching limbs are emblematic of global circulations of labor, bodies, capital, and industrial goods. Thus the sweating sari of the dancer stands in for her unrecognized labor.
Srinivasan shifts away from the usual emphasis on Indian women dancers as culture bearers of the Indian nation. She asks us to reframe the movements of late nineteenth century transnational Nautch Indian dancers to the foremother of modern dance Ruth St. Denis in the early twentieth century to contemporary teenage dancers in Southern California, proposing a transformative theory of dance, gendered-labor, and citizenship that is far-reaching.
In Transnational America, Inderpal Grewal examines how the circulation of people, goods, social movements, and rights discourses during the 1990s created transnational subjects shaped by a global American culture. Rather than simply frame the United States as an imperialist nation-state that imposes unilateral political power in the world, Grewal analyzes how the concept of “America” functions as a nationalist discourse beyond the boundaries of the United States by disseminating an ideal of democratic citizenship through consumer practices. She develops her argument by focusing on South Asians in India and the United States.
Grewal combines a postcolonial perspective with social and cultural theory to argue that contemporary notions of gender, race, class, and nationality are linked to earlier histories of colonization. Through an analysis of Mattel’s sales of Barbie dolls in India, she discusses the consumption of American products by middle-class Indian women newly empowered with financial means created by India’s market liberalization. Considering the fate of asylum-seekers, Grewal looks at how a global feminism in which female refugees are figured as human rights victims emerged from a distinctly Western perspective. She reveals in the work of three novelists who emigrated from India to the United States—Bharati Mukherjee, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, and Amitav Ghosh—a concept of Americanness linked to cosmopolitanism. In Transnational America Grewal makes a powerful, nuanced case that the United States must be understood—and studied—as a dynamic entity produced and transformed both within and far beyond its territorial boundaries.
In Unsettling India, Purnima Mankekar offers a new understanding of the affective and temporal dimensions of how India and “Indianness,” as objects of knowledge production and mediation, circulate through transnational public cultures. Based on over a decade of ethnographic fieldwork in New Delhi and the San Francisco Bay Area, Mankekar tracks the sense of unsettlement experienced by her informants in both places, disrupting binary conceptions of homeland and diaspora, and the national and transnational. She examines Bollywood films, Hindi TV shows, advertisements, and such commodities as Indian groceries as interconnected nodes in the circulation of transnational public cultures that continually reconfigure affective connections to India and what it means to be Indian, both within the country and outside. Drawing on media and cultural studies, feminist anthropology, and Asian/Asian American studies, this book deploys unsettlement as an analytic to trace modes of belonging and not-belonging.
The internet has transformed the idea of home for Indians and Indian Americans. In Virtual Homelands: Indian Immigrants and Online Cultures in the United States, Madhavi Mallapragada analyzes home pages and other online communities organized by diasporic and immigrant Indians from the late 1990s through the social media period. Engaging the shifting aspects of belonging, immigrant politics, and cultural citizenship by linking the home page, household, and homeland as key sites, Mallapragada illuminates the contours of belonging and reveals how Indian American struggles over it trace back to the web's active mediation in representing, negotiating, and reimagining "home."
As Mallapragada shows, ideologies around family and citizenship shift to fit the transnational contexts of the online world and immigration. At the same time, the tactical use of the home page to make gender, racial, and class struggles visible and create new modes for belonging implicates the web within complex political and cultural terrain. On e-commerce, community, and activist sites, the recasting of home and homeland online points to intrusion by public agents such as the state, the law, and immigration systems in the domestic, the private, and the familial. Mallapragada reveals that the home page may mobilize to reproduce conservative narratives of Indian immigrants' familial and citizenship cultures, but the reach of a website extends beyond the textual and discursive to encompass the institutions shaping it, as the web unmakes and remakes ideas of "India" and "America."