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Transoceanic Dialogues

Coolitude in Caribbean and Indian Ocean Literatures


Veronique Bragard

At the point in time when the abolition of slavery was being celebrated, another system of servitude was underway: indentureship. Indenture labor resulted in the transportation of one million Indians – called coolies – into British and French colonies. Unable or unwilling to return, a great majority of them stayed in the countries they had been shipped to and participated in the creation of new, creole cultures.
This book offers a close reading of literary works in French and in English by women writers whose ancestors originally came to the Caribbean or across the Indian Ocean as indentured laborers. Positing a dynamic and open approach, the author adopts the concept of coolitude to examine how their works capture, on the one hand, the Indian element of the creolization process and, on the other hand, the creolization of the Indian diasporic inheritance.
Organized around the paradigm of the crossing – historical, geographical, gender-based, corporeal, identitary – this study offers insightful transoceanic, transregional and transcolonial dialogues between Caribbean and Indian Ocean literatures. Focusing on themes of displacement, entrapment, metamorphosis and marginalization, the author explores the entanglements and tensions that characterize creole pluricultural landscapes while she underscores Caribbean and Mauritian literature’s engagement with alterity.


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Preface 11 Introduction 17 Abbreviations of Frequently Cited Works 25 CHAPTER 1 Mapping Kala Pani Voices 27 CHAPTER 2 Plurigeneses. Coolitude and Marine Chronotopes 59 CHAPTER 3 Transgenerational and Geographical Passages. The Ambivalence of (Un)belonging 99 CHAPTER 4 Coolie Women's Transgressive Crossings 133 CHAPTER 5 Walking Roots. Reading Labor, Vegetal, and Massala Metaphors of Identity 169 CHAPTER 6 Defying National Obstacles. Poetics of Rapprochement in Guyana and Mauritius 199 CONCLUSION Coolitude or the Crossing of Imaginaries 249 Bibliography 255 Index 273 9

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