Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities

Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities

Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities

Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities

Synopsis

By addressing questions of culture, identity and politics, Cartographies of Diaspora throws new light on discussions about 'difference' and 'diversity', informed by feminism and post-structuralism. It examines these themes by exploring the intersections of 'race', gender, class, sexuality, ethnicity, generation and nationalism in different discourses, practices and political contexts.The first three chapters map the emergence of 'Asian' as a racialized category in post-war British popular and political discourse and state practices. It documents Asian cultural and political responses paying particular attention to the role of gender and generation. The remaining six chapters analyse the debate on 'difference', 'diversity' and 'diaspora' across different sites, but mainly within feminism, anti-racism, and post-structuralism.

Excerpt

What does it mean to think about the politics of diaspora in the present historical moment? Reflecting on this question made me acutely aware how my whole life has been marked by diasporic inscriptions. I have had 'homes' in four of the five continents-Asia, Africa, America, and now Europe. When does a place of residence become 'home'? This is something with which those for whom travel constitutes a form of migrancy are inevitably confronted at some stage in their lives. And, it is a question that is almost always enmeshed with politics, in the widest sense of the term.

I was born in the Panjab and I grew up in Uganda. This rather banal statement can also be 'read' as the historical entanglement of a multitude of biographies in the crucible of the British Empire. In this sense my own biography is also a reminder of the collective history of South Asians in what used to be known as 'British East Africa'. This history is underpinned by a series of episodes: indentured labour recruited from India by the British during the nineteenth century to build the railways; the twentieth-century migration of those, such as my parents, who followed in the wake of the folklore that painted Africa as a land of opportunity; the formation in East Africa-via the effects of colonial policy-of the 'colonial sandwich', with Europeans at the top, Asians in the middle, and Africans at the bottom; the restructuring of these hierarchies in complex ways during the period following Uganda's independence from colonial rule; the post-colonial political strife that resulted in the military coup which brought Idi Amin to power; the expulsion of Asians from Uganda by Amin; the devastation of civil war in Uganda; and, in the late

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