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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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CHAPTER 6 - Defying National Obstacles. Poetics of Rapprochement in Guyana and Mauritius 199


CHAPTER 6 Defying National Obstacles Poetics of Rapprochement in Guyana and Mauritius To open this section I interrogate the myth of the melting pot ad- dressed in the previous chapter. 1f identity and creolization is dynami- cally and relentlessly fashioned in a creative process, it is also heavily shaped by economic needs or national, political discourses that can force segregation leading to hierarchies of power and violence. In specific contexts, the political past constitutes a heavy weight that haunts and pains. This is the case of Guyana. Although other regions like South Africa could have been discussed in more detail, 1 chose to first focus on the portrayal of the Guyanese political unrest which emerges as a strong motif in Indo-Caribbean women's literature but that has remained unexplored. Opening up discussion on issues such as nationalism, pluralism, marginalization and gender oppression in times of unrest, creative texts debunk the idea of an ethnic cry privileging a rapproche- ment of cultures. I then use the work of Ananda Devi which, by con- trast, reveals how Hindu casteism has shaped the national discourse in the Mauritian context, thus excluding communities and values. In the second part of this chapter, 1 scrutinize how her body of work represents alterity in the Mauritian context at the same time as it invites the reader to consider new relationships with Otherness. Tasting the Lumps of the Melting-pot: Creole Cuisine and National Tensions Although fascinating, my approach to creole cuisine as the epitome of cross-culturality in the...

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