Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

5 - Re-conceptualization of “homeland” in Post Partition Era Among the Indo-trinidadians

Friday, July 6
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Amaltas, Lower Ground Floor

Conceptualization of ‘homeland’ whether real or imagined plays a crucial role in identity formation particularly among the diasporic communities. This paper discusses the perceived vision of India as their “homeland” prior to and post 1947 partition and the dynamics of identity formation among the descendants of Indian indentured laborers in Trinidad and Tobago. This study employs narratives of surviving members of the pre-partition era and current generations.  The findings suggest that the notion of belongingness to their ‘homeland’ from the pre to post-partition have remained unchanged among the older generations.  Despite the fact that India remains only a memory, members of older generations cling to Indian traditions as survival mechanisms against influences of the multi-racial milieu of Trinidad and Tobago.  They equate losing their cultural heritage to losing their sense of Indian-ness.  In contrast, the younger generations display dynamic and fluid patterns of identity formation. Their conceptualization of ‘homeland’ is closer to reality than imagined, mostly due to exposure to globalization and advent of “great tradition” of India into their country via Bollywood movies, popular food culture, music, live performances, Indian Expo and the like.  The study calls for more in-depth examination of the “inner spiritual space” (purported by Chatterjee: 1993) displayed by the older generations in the process of identity formation as opposed to “outer public space” upheld by the younger generations who identify with mainstream society and yet hold on (to some measure) to that “inner spiritual space” of their forefathers

Susan J. Chand

University of the Southern Caribbean, India

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