La résistance: An online initiative explores India’s Creole pasts…


Professor Ananya Jahanara Kabir and writer Ari Gautier’s Le thinnai kreyol aims to celebrate India’s disappearing multicultural histories. As Kabir explains this project will “highlight the Indian diasporas in the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, and Fiji, while emphasizing creolisation and archipelagic thought.” She adds, “Our main desire is to give Indo-diasporic communities in these islands other ways to celebrate their identities as creolised,” rather than looking towards “a mythical purity coming from India.” Here are excerpts from “La resistance: An online initiative explores India’s creole pasts – and how they shaped our present.” See the original article here.

From Ceylon Manohar’s Tamil hit Chinna Mamiye to the Bobby song Na Chahoon Sona Chandi, from spicy chorizo sausages to pork vadavam kozhambu, from everyday furniture like the almirah to the verandah that we take for granted: they are the product of complex and fascinating histories that resulted from India’s long encounter with Europe.

In recent years, however, these histories have been under attack by forces that aim to present a monolithic account of Indian culture. At a time when “majoritarian narratives in South Asia, and claims to cultural exclusivity go hand-in-hand with social exclusion,” academic Ananya Jahanara Kabir and writer Ari Gautier have launched an online effort to hold on to these “disappeared pasts”.

Their Le thinnai kreyol initiative aims to “enable encounters between representatives – artists, intellectuals, entrepreneurs – of disappeared or disappearing pasts, to build solidarities through sharing creativity and cultural heritage”, they said in an email interview.

Le thinnai kreyol, they said, resists the “hegemonic master-narratives of what India must be”. [. . .]

Kabir and Gautier plan to create a website to host the material gathered through these interactions, which will help “reactivate memory” across what they call an “archipelago of fragments”. The “fragments”, they say, refer to “enclaves and port cities within India where colonial modernity and mercantile activity ensured centuries of astonishing cultural interchange” as well as “islands and coastal enclaves in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean, and Pacific, and European ports and metropolises”. [. . .]

[Shown above: Painting titled ‘Bajaderen Von Pondichery’/’Bajadères de Pondichery’, meaning musicians of Pondicherry, dated 1845, and signed Lith. v Honegger.]

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