Organized Panel Session
This panel examines how mobile and settled people of Indian descent re-formulated their new belonging and articulated claims of citizenship in the Afro-Asian Indian Ocean World. Far from being a new characteristic of the globalizing world, people have always been mobile, settling in new territories and returning to their land of birth. These mobilities and settlements have shaped how they articulated their often-shifting belonging and crafted citizenship claims in colonial and postcolonial states. Bringing together studies from South Africa, Mauritius, the India-Burma border, and Kenya, these papers examine how mobile and settled people of Indian descent perceived their identities and consequently articulated citizenship claims across the twentieth century, from the colonial to the postcolonial era. Emma Alexander examines how the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910 affected the belonging and claims of Indians in particularly as they related to their capacity to lease land after their release from indenture contracts. Catherine Odari argues that it was historical, economic and political processes that shaped Indians’ belonging as Kenyans and not their apparent ethno-racial and cultural differences. Emma Meyer analyzes how Indian evacuees, having fled from Burma (Myanmar) during World War II, expressed and negotiated their claims to citizenship at the India-Burma border during the “postcolonial moment” from the late 1940s to the early 1950s. Yoshina Hurgobin considers how former Indian indentured immigrants and their descendants apprehended the independence of India in 1947 and grappled with whether Indians in Mauritius should join the new Indian nation-state.