1st Edition

Kala Pani Crossings, Gender and Diaspora Indian Perspectives

Edited By Judith Misrahi-Barak, Ritu Tyagi, H. Kalpana Copyright 2024
    386 Pages
    by Routledge India

    This volume explores the intersections of diaspora and gender within the diasporic and Indian imagination. It investigates the ways in which race, class, caste, gender, and sexuality intersect with concepts of home, belonging, displacement and the reinvention of the nation and of self.

    Positioning itself as a companion to Kala Pani Crossings: Revisiting 19th century Migrations from India’s Perspective (Routledge, 2021), the present book examines whether indentureship and diasporic locations marginalised women and men or empowered them; how negotiations or resistances have been determined by race, class, caste, or ethnicity; how traditional standards of Indianness and gender relations have been reshaped; how ideas of home, self and the nation have been impacted in the diaspora and in India after the 19th and early 20th century indentureship migration; and what 21st century Indians stand to gain by theorizing the legacy of 19th century indenture through a gender framework. To understand how fiction and non-fiction writers have negotiated the legacy of indentureship to create spaces where normative practices can be interrogated and challenged, the book gives pride of place to interviews with writers such as Cyril Dabydeen, Ananda Devi, Ramabai Espinet, Davina Ittoo, Brij Lal, Peggy Mohan, Shani Mootoo, and Khal Torabully.

    Thus rooted in critical analyses but also in subjective and creative perspectives, this volume is a major intervention in understanding Indian indenture and its legacy in the diaspora and in India. It will be of great interest to scholars and researchers of literature, history, Indian Ocean studies, migration and South Asian studies.

    Introduction: Texts and Contexts: Rethinking Gender in Kala Pani Narratives

    Judith Misrahi-Barak, Ritu Tyagi and H. Kalpana Rao

    PART I: Rethinking the Kala pani: Theoretical and Pedagogical Approaches

    1. Revisiting Literary Studies of the Indian Diaspora: Possible Strategies for a Comparatist Approach

    Mala Pandurang

    2. ‘The Sea is History’: The Concept of Space in Women’s Kala Pani Crossings

    Himadri Lahiri

    3. Women and Indenture: Revisiting Indian Discourses

    Amba Pande

    PART II: Past and Present: Revisiting the ‘Sexual Contract’

    4. ‘Intimate Violence’ and the ‘Sexual Contract’: Female Convicts and Marriage ‘System’ in Andamans, c. 1860-c.1920

    Suparna Sengupta

    5. Marriage and Man-Woman Relationship in Coolie Diaspora

    Auritra Munshi

    6. Queer Diaspora and Hindu Rituals: Shani Mootoo’s Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab

    Arnab Kumar Sinha

    PART III: Voice and Vision Redeemed

    7. Constructing Narratives on both sides of the Kala Pani: The Gendered Departee and Returnee in Firmin Lacpatia’s Boadour – du Gange … à la Rivière des Roches and K. Madavane’s Rue des Tisserands, Pondichéry

    Vijaya Rao

    8. The Traces of the Silenced: Indian Indentured Women Labourers in Colonial Literature of the Réunion

    Jenni Balasubramanian

    9. Between Homes and Shores: Reimagining Her 'Silences' from Kalapani Crossings in Indo-Caribbean Poetry

    Praveen Mirdha

    10. Visions, Trances, and other Abnormalities of Indenture in Jahajin, The Swinging Bridge and Sea of Poppies

    Gargi Dutta

    PART IV: In Conversation with India: Memorial Narratives Inside Out

    11. Popular Resolution of the Bhojpuri Women’s Question: Examining the Socio-Cultural Legacy of the Bidesiya in Select Bhojpuri Films

    Ridhima Tewari

    12. Remembering Mariamman

    Stephanos Stephanides

    PART V: In the Writers’ Own Voices

    Interviews with Brij V. Lal, Ananda Devi, Shani Mootoo, Peggy Mohan, Cyril Dabydeen, Davina Ittoo, Ramabai Espinet, Khal Torabully


    Judith Misrahi-Barak is Professor in Postcolonial Studies in the English Department, University Paul Valéry Montpellier 3, France. She is a member of the research center EMMA and is General Editor of the series PoCoPages (Pulm, Montpellier). Her areas of specialisation and publication are Anglophone Caribbean, Indo- and Sino-Caribbean literatures, diaspora and migrant writing, as well as Dalit literatures. Her recent monograph in French is entitled Entre Atlantique et océan Indien: les voix de la Caraïbe anglophones (Classiques Garnier, Paris, 2021).

    Ritu Tyagi is Associate Professor at Pondicherry University since 2012. She has published numerous articles on Francophone Literature, Postcolonial and Feminist Writing. Her book Ananda Devi: Narration, Polyphony and Feminism was published in 2013 and was well received by critics.

    H. Kalpana Rao is Professor in the Department of English, Pondicherry University, Puducherry, India. She has received several awards, she has several publications to her credit including a book, Quilting Relationships: A Cruise through Comparative Literary Studies. Her areas of interest include Canadian and American literature, women’s literature, gender and feminist studies, cultural and diaspora studies, and new literatures in English.