1 Marginalisation in Mauritius My father didn’t like Mauritius. He told us that life in Mauritius was not the same [as life in Chagos]. We didn’t understand because we were children, and we always said that we wanted to go to Mauritius. Our father told us that life in Mauritius was hard; even the Mauritian people were very poor. I was little when we came here for the first time. I was seven years old. At that time all the children liked Mauritius and we said that we wanted to stay, but my father didn’t like it so after a month we returned to Chagos. Then we
The Chagos islanders were forcibly uprooted from the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean between 1965 and 1973. This book compares the experiences of displaced Chagos islanders in Mauritius with the experiences of those Chagossians who have moved to the UK since 2002. It provides an ethnographic comparative study of forced displacement and onward migration within the living memory of one community. Based on in-depth ethnographic fieldwork in Mauritius and Crawley (West Sussex), the six chapters explore Chagossians' challenging lives in Mauritius, the mobilisation of the community, reformulations of the homeland, the politics of culture in exile, onward migration to Crawley, and attempts to make a home in successive locations. The book illuminates how displaced people romanticise their homeland through an exploration of changing representations of the Chagos Archipelago in song lyrics. Offering further ethnographic insights into the politics of culture, it shows how Chagossians in exile engage with contrasting conceptions of culture ranging from expectations of continuity and authenticity to enactments of change, loss, and revival.
12 The Mauritius Truth and Justice Commission: ‘eyewash’, ‘storm in a teacup’ or promise of a new future for Mauritians? Vijayalakshmi Teelock The Neale conference panel ‘Reparations, restitution and the historian’, at which this paper was originally presented, attempted to address issues that have long plagued independent states that were formerly colonial plantation and slave societies. This was a laudable initiative, given that slavery and its legacies continue to haunt these societies in so many ways, with calls for reparations growing louder day by day. As
Mauritius rarely attracts the attention of southern African historians because the island, located in the south-west Indian Ocean, may or may not be classified as part of southern Africa. There are some connections: Cape merchants have been trading with Mauritius ever since the seventeenth century. There are also some similarities: Mauritius resembles Natal because, during the
Slavery and the slavery business have cast a long shadow over British history. In 1833, abolition was heralded as evidence of Britain's claim to be themodern global power, its commitment to representative government in Britain, free labour, the rule of law, and a benevolent imperial mission all aspects of a national identity rooted in notions of freedom and liberty. Yet much is still unknown about the significance of the slavery, slave-ownership and emancipation in the formation of modern imperial Britain. This essays in this book explore fundamental issues including the economic impact of slavery and slave-ownership, the varied forms of labour deployed in the imperial world, including hired slaves and indentured labourers, the development of the C19th imperial state, slavery and public and family history, and contemporary debates about reparations. The contributors, drawn from Britain, the Caribbean and Mauritius, include some of the most distinguished writers in the field: Clare Anderson, Robin Blackburn, Heather Cateau, Mary Chamberlain, Chris Evans, Pat Hudson, Richard Huzzey, Zoë Laidlaw, Alison Light, Anita Rupprecht, Verene A. Shepherd, Andrea Stuart and Vijaya Teelock. The impact of slavery and slave-ownership is once again becoming a major area of historical and contemporary concern: this book makes a vital contribution to the subject.
6 Making home in exile This concluding chapter continues Chapter 5’s ethnographic focus on the Chagossian community in Crawley, while revisiting the themes of home and homeland explored in Part II. This chapter starts by revisiting debates amongst scholars of migration and displacement about the distinction between ‘forced displacement’ and ‘voluntary migration’. It asks to what extent Chagossians contrast their forced displacement from Chagos to Mauritius with their onward migration from Mauritius to the UK. My data reveal that experiences of onward migration
The history and sociology of science has not been well developed in southern Africa as compared to India, Australia or Latin America. This book deals with case studies drawn from South Africa, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia), Mozambique and Mauritius, and examines the relationship between scientific claims and practices, and the exercise of colonial power. European intellectuals saw in Africa images of their own prehistory and societal development. The book reveals the work of the Swiss naturalist and anthropologist Henri Junod. The relative status of Franco-Mauritian, Creoles and Indo-Mauritian peasants was an important factor in gaining knowledge of and access to canes. After the Boer War, science was one of the regenerating forces, and the British Association found it appropriate to hold its 1905 meetings in the Southern African subcontinent. White farmers in the Cape Colony in the late nineteenth century often greeted with suspicion the enumeration of livestock and crop. The book focuses on the connections between the apartheid state's capacity to count and to control. Apartheid statecraft included aspirations of totalising modes of racialised knowledge. Included in the theme of state rationality and techniques of domination is the specialized use of dogs by police in apprehending black alleged criminals. The book discusses the Race Welfare Society, which turned to eugenics for a blueprint on how to cultivate a healthy and productive white population. However, George Gale and Sidney and Emily Kark advocated socialised medicine, and had a genuine desire to promote the broad health needs of Africans.
5 Echoes of marginalisation in Crawley I hope it will be better for me there [in the UK]. Life here [in Mauritius] is hard. Here [in Mauritius] we work a lot for a little money, whereas there [in the UK] we will work a little for enough money. I hope to save a bit, to build my children’s future, to make a stable life. I’m sacrificing myself for my family. (Claude, a father in his forties born in Mauritius to a Chagossian mother) Displaced Chagos islanders’ experiences of marginalisation and mobilisation in Mauritius were examined in Part I. This chapter
2 Mobilisation in exile In the previous chapter, I described how the Chagos islands and the Chagos islanders were already marginal within colonial Mauritius, and showed that the socio-economic, political, and ethnic tensions in mainland Mauritius in the 1960s and 1970s negatively affected the Chagos islanders’ experiences of relocation. In this chapter I show how Chagossians have responded to their chronic marginalisation and impoverishment in exile through mobilisation in the form of struggles led first by Chagossian women in Mauritius and later by Chagossian
4 The politics of culture in exile This chapter explores the politics of cultural expression among the Chagossian community in exile. Culture [kiltir] has been an issue for displaced Chagos islanders in Mauritius for two reasons connected to the Chagossian struggle. First, in order to make a case for special treatment – compensation, the right of return, UK citizenship – they must show cultural uniqueness and demonstrate their distinctiveness from other Mauritian citizens and lack of integration into Mauritian society. Second, in order to be recognised as