May 20, 2011

Mobilizing Diaspora: The University of the West Indies hosts International Conference on The Global South Asian Diaspora

By Amar Wahab

Amar Wahab is a lecturer in Sociology at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad & Tobago

For the region’s Nobel Laureate, Derek Walcott, “the traveller cannot love,” unlike those more settled and put in place. If this is so in a region ironically settled by diasporic populations, what does it mean for those who have moved from home, those who are stranded while mobile, those who yearn for resettlement of self, family and community while aiming for boundless possibility? The myriad factors that push and pull, wax and wane and which organize diasporas and diasporic circuits are increasingly important to the region, where Walcott’s sense of ‘love’ (and hope) remains ever elusive.

Of the many regions that historically and presently impact the Caribbean, South Asia, especially India, has had and continues to have a deep connection with the Indo-Caribbean diaspora in Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica. A similar relation to seemingly far off places like Mauritius, Fiji, and South Africa brings these countries, which share histories of colonialism and indentureship, into fruitful encounter with the Caribbean. The increasing attempts by India to marshal its troops in the global diaspora through economic, political and cultural venues, like clothes and jewellery fairs, Bollywood cable channels, and joint-venture banking, etc. can only be realistically assessed when thought of in relation to the response of the diaspora to this invitation to allegiance to homeland.

At the same time we see similar gestures of reciprocity connecting the Indo-Caribbean diaspora in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, The Netherlands and France, though with different intensities and directions of exchange. These increasingly fluid mobilizations of love for return and returning for love’s sake must be watched to understand what they can make possible and problematic. Perhaps it is this attention to what Tejaswini Niranjana terms ‘mobilizing India’, and I would add, mobilizing diaspora in the name of India (People of Indian Origin and Non-Resident Indians), that the region needs to carefully consider alongside longstanding concerns about Western neoimperialism, as a unique framing consideration of our 21st-century horizon.

Read full article here.

1 comment:

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