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Reading the double diaspora: cultural representations of Gujarati East Africans in Britain

Parmar, Maya (2013) Reading the double diaspora: cultural representations of Gujarati East Africans in Britain. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis explores representations of culture amongst the prolific twice-displaced Gujarati East African diaspora in Britain. I argue that the paucity of fictional literatures written about, or by, this community demonstrate that the ‘double diaspora’ often favour forms of embodied narrative. Using the literary critical interpretive practices of close reading, I thus analyse a range of cultural ‘texts’. Through this approach of investigating both the written text alongside the nontextual embodied narrative, the thesis broadens the remit of literary studies and subsequently addresses a lacuna in scholarship on cultural representations of the ‘double diaspora’. Whilst the thesis intervenes in contemporary literary postcolonial debate, interdisciplinary connections between diverse disciplines, such as performance, trauma and diaspora studies, are established. Following my introduction, the thesis is divided into three main chapters: each considers a form of embodied cultural representation significant to the migrant who has been displaced from India to Britain, via East Africa. Beginning with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s The Settler’s Cookbook – one of the few examples of a written representation of twice-migrant culture – I explore culinary practices as a mode of individuated and collective identity articulation. In my third chapter, I develop my argument to read the Gujarati dances of dandiya-raas and garba, played during the Hindu festival of Navratri. Finally, before concluding, the fourth chapter moves to explore visual materials gathered from personal kinship networks. In identifying embodied narratives as significant to the double diaspora, my thesis uncovers the performance of complex and multiple selfhoods and collectivities within this community. Whilst there are instances of a surprising convergence of modern and traditional identities, there is too the emergence of an Indian national identity, which is complicated by regional Gujaratiness. In closing, I propose a Gujarati East African vernacular modernity, which demonstrates how this progressdriven diaspora simultaneously looks in two directions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of English (Leeds)
Depositing User: Repository Administrator
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2013 12:30
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:28
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/4615

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