1st Edition

Narrating Africa in South Asia

Edited By Mahmood Kooria Copyright 2023

    The coastal belts and hinterlands of East Africa and South Asia have historically shared a number of cultural traits, commodities and cosmologies circulated on the wings of the monsoon winds. The forced and voluntary migrations of Asians and Africans across the Indian Ocean littoral over several centuries have reverberated in the memories, literatures, travelogues and religious, architectural, and socio-political imaginations of both the regions. And, they continue to do so in various forms and platforms.

    This book explores nuances of various narratives on these long-term transcultural exchanges with a special focus on India. It explores the ways in which Africa and Africans have been narrated in South Asian history and culture in order to unravel the nuanced layers of reflexive, rhetorical, stereotypical, populist, racialist, racist and casteist frameworks that informed diverse narratives in vernacular texts, songs, films and newspaper reports. Emphasizing the interdisciplinary approaches of narratology, Afro-Asian studies, and Indian Ocean studies, the contributors enunciate how the African lives in South Asia have been selectively remembered or systematically forgotten. Through multi-sited ethnographies, multilingual archival researches and interdisciplinary frameworks, each chapter provides theoretical engagements on the basis of empirical research in such regions as Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Hyderabad and Mumbai as well as in Sri Lanka. This book was originally published as a special issue of South Asian History and Culture.

    1. Introduction: narrating Africa in South Asia

    Mahmood Kooria

    2. Eastern African doyens in South Asia: premodern Islamic intellectual interactions

    Mahmood Kooria

    3. From soldier to spectacle: Africans and the langar procession in Hyderabad

    Benjamin B. Cohen

    4. Africa in South Asia: hybridity in Sri Lankan Kaffrinha

    Shihan de Silva Jayasuriya

    5. Sidi voices and the Sidi Sayyid mosque: narratives of space and belonging

    Beheroze Shroff and Sonal Mehta

    6. Geographies of death and memory: shrines dedicated to African saints and spectral deities in India

    Neelima Jeychandran

    7. Translocal notions of belonging and authenticity: understanding race amongst the Siddis of Gujarat and Hyderabad

    Khatija Sana Khader

    8. From ‘Afro-Indians’ to ‘Afro-global’ networking: contemporary identification and unification processes among Siddis

    S. Péquignot

    9. Siddi marriage: re-signifying contract, transactions and identities

    Fiona Jamal Almeida and Pashington Obeng


    Mahmood Kooria holds research positions at Leiden University (the Netherlands) and University of Bergen (Norway) and is visiting faculty in the department of history at Ashoka University (India). He has authored Islamic Law in Circulation (2022) and co-edited Islamic Law in the Indian Ocean World (2022) and Malabar in the Indian Ocean (2018).