Evolving humanity, emerging worlds
Manchester, UK; 5th-10th August 2013
What is an Indian? How do Indians define this in terms of ethnology, identity or cultural heritage?
Location Roscoe 1.008
Date and Start Time 09 Aug, 2013 at 09:00
Overseas Indian communities out side India are heterogeneous regional groups. Suddenly they were known as Indian Diaspora . The government of India did not show any affection to them. But what is this Indian Diaspora?
What is an Indian? How does he become a part of Indian Diaspora? How does he define himself as an Indian and why when India is an imagined construction.
India itself is a sort of federation of regional, religious, cultural, national and linguistic identities. In India no one calls himself as Indian but wants to be called by his regional identities, such as, Punjabi, Bengali, Gujarati, Naga, Tamil, Telgu, Bhojpuri, Munda, Santhali and so on. Before 1947, India was divided into many states. It was the colonial power which identified people of the sub-continent, as Indians. Only after 2000, Indian Diaspora was recognized by the Indian government, consisting of castes, tribals, religions and cultures. With 3rd generation of Indian Diaspora the link with India has become meager. In a multi-cultural society the feeling of belonging to an ethnic Indian community distinguishes them from others. Anthropologically, how can we explain the notions of 'Indianness', Indian Diaspora, Cultural boundries, migrations, ethnicity, identity and cultural heritage? Moreover, how overseas Indians have managed to have two roles simultaneously, being the citizen of the adopted country and India which has been the root of their forefathers.
This panel invites papers that seek to analyse the Indian diaspora in terms of these questions.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Indian Identities in Germany
The paper will deal with the ways in which NRI and PIO in Germany see and define their identity and their “Indianness” in relation towards their homeland, the majority society of the host nation, and the Indian diaspora. It will also include an assessment of possible identity and loyalty conflicts.
The Indian community in Germany numbers approximately a mere 70,000 people. However, this rather small population group has managed to become a respected and well-integrated, although by no means fully assimilated segment of German society. This paper will deal with the ways in which Non-Resident Indians (NRI) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) in Germany see and define their identity and their "Indianness" in relation towards their homeland India, the majority population in the host nation Germany, and the worldwide Indian diaspora. It is going to be an empirical study which will combine a general analysis with qualitative research regarding prominent members of the Indian community in Germany such as politicians, activists, or artists. Particular emphasis will be put on the second and third generations and their struggle to find their place between the Indian cultural heritage of their parents and the demands of a very different majority society in Germany. Furthermore, the paper will also include an assessment of possible identity and loyalty conflicts.
How Indians define their identity in India and outside India?
Indian Diaspora is not a homogineous group. It is often devided into several identities. However, in coutries where Indian community lives they are considered by the government and host society as,Indian group. How an Indian defines his identity in a muli-ethnic society? Pschologically and emotionally does he really feel Indian when India is far away.
There have been attempts to define Indianness by using mostly decriptive ethnography. Anthropologists have used social structure while others religion, culture, language, festivals, life crises including marriage.The question remain unanswered that how Indians deifine their Indianness? Do they consider India as their home or an imaginary country? I think new research should be conducted with anthropological methodology. New generation is different then first one. Their perception of their Indianness and the country India is copletely different. When they visit India do they feel really same as other people of India. There are many issues related to identity maintenance mechanism and the changing interpretations. The paper will focuss on the casa studies of European and Caribbean countries.
Asian Indians in the United States: Identity Construction in the Context of Indian Diaspora
This paper focuses on strategies adopted by Indians living in the United States in the context of Indian identity, their educational and professional attainment The goal of this ethnographic study is to shed light on the process of identity construction of Asian Indians.
Indians migrating to different parts of the world is a historical as well as a contemporary phenomenon. Research on Indian Diaspora has clearly established that wherever they went they maintained their Indian identity in a strong way. While in general language and religion has played important role in identity maintenance, other factors also contribute.
In this paper we will focus on strategies adopted by Indians living in the United States in the context of Indian identity, e.g., their educational and professional attainment, active participation in Indian organizations and festivities, as well as visit to India. The goal of this ethnographic study is to shed light on the process of identity construction of Asian Indians particularly in the context of model minority rhetoric. Asian Indians are stereotyped as an English-speaking scientific community, and an achievement-oriented minority. In the United States Asian Indians and their children are positively stereotyped as "successful minorities," and are ascribed "model minority" status in American society because their educational and economic profile competes with the profile of whites. Like many Asian Americans, Asian Indians are voluntary immigrants who migrated to the United States in the quest of a better life.
Familial Bonds of Indians in the Diaspora: A Study of Elderly Visiting Parents to Canada
This paper tries to examine the familial bonds between Indians in Canada and the homeland.
Academic enquiries in the field of the Indian diaspora in Canada have so far focused mainly on the diaspora settled in Canada. This study proposes to push forth in a new direction, with an investigation of the familial bonds between children settled in Canada and the parents who are often left behind. A close and continual association is maintained by the first generation diaspora with the country of origin, often through the agency of the parents. It can generally be observed that the intensity of visits to India might be more frequent during the life-time of the parents of the first generation migrants. These visits also often take the form of familial occasions like marriage, death or birth, religious occasions, and investment decisions like the purchase of land or construction of a family house. There also exists a significant reverse flow of traffic, in terms of parents visiting their children. This traffic and its implications are yet to receive adequate academic attention. While some research has been undertaken regarding the impact of the phenomenon of parents who also migrate permanently to Canada along with the first generation, there has not been any significant effort to examine the linkage for the majority of parents who do not immigrate for various reasons. The paper is based on primary data collected through fifty personal interviews among respondents who have visited Canada in the recent past. The fieldwork has been conducted in Vancouver, Canada during November and December 2011.
Chhau, a rare kind of mask dance: intangible cultural heritage of India
"Chhau" a rare kind of mask dance form have been passed from one generation to another, have evolved in response to their environments and they contribute to giving us a sense of identity and continuity, providing a link from our past, through the present and into our future.
"CHHAU -The Dance Drama" with silent language and conversation, is not the cultural manifestation itself but rather the wealth of knowledge and skills that is transmitted from one generation to the next. Chhau dance is distributed into three adjoining states of India:- Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. The three forms of Chhau are named after the district or village where they are performed, i.e. the Purulia Chhau of Bengal, the Seraikella Chhau of Bihar and the Mayurbhanj Chhau of Orissa. Chhau has been identified by UNESCO as an essential component and repositioning of cultural diversity and creative expression.The social and economic value of conserving our traditional knowledge through transmission is relevant in the present age of globalisation. Intangible cultural heritage contributes to social cohesion, encouraging a sense of identity and responsibility which helps individuals to feel part of one or different communities and to feel part of society at large. The present paper had studied chhau dance anthropologically and found that In spite of the advent of the modern means of entertainment like T.V and internet the artistes of Chhau are keen to carry forward the tradition of the rare kind of mask dance. This is a sincere effort to keep the tradition alive.
Indianness among overseas Indians: issues of unity in diversity
This paper searches for ‘Indianness’ in the complex socio-cultural milieu of over twenty five million overseas Indians, highly diversified and dispersed globally in more than a hundred countries.
This paper searches for 'Indianness' in the complex socio-cultural millieu of over twenty five million Indians, scattered in more than a hundred countries world over. People of Indian Origin outside India are no less diversified into innumerable castes and subcastes, languages and dialects, regions and localities, and religions, sects and subsects. Any definition of 'Indianness' needs to underline attributes that encompass all diversities that are present among the Indians in India and also elsewhere beyond the nation-state. The paper also explores the process through which 'Indianness' is pursued and perceived among the Indian diaspora.
Historically, India is colonial creation in the sense that the map of India was drawn by the British during her rule and redrawn significantly at the stroke of midnight on August 14th in 1947, while leaving the subcontinent. At that very moment, a section of the population became 'Pakistanis' and later some of them 'Bangladeshis'. Implied here is that 'Indianness' is a social/ psychological product of colonialism as much as post-colonialism, articulated through the political notion of a 'nation', that bound the population despite the diversities.
The post-colonial India and 'Indianness' excludes people and places falling within the boundaries of Pakistan despite the similarities in cultural and racial attributes. The concept of 'India' is essentially a political and territorial construct born out of the desire for a common Constitution, Parliament, governance and, above all, unity transcending all the diversities.
"Indianness" as an ethnic marker in Indian Diaspora
Proposed paper analyses the ‘Indianness’ as an ethnic marker in Indian Diaspora, which get reflected through diverse cultural traits such as language, dress-style, ritual, tradition and cuisine etc. These trait complexes have been evolved through a synthesis of the memories of homeland passed on by the early settlers to their descendents through oral and institutional modes, and real interaction through various old and new visiting ‘agencies’ from the homeland of their imagination.
Human behavior results from the interaction of genetically and culturally inherited information. People acquire beliefs, attitudes, and values from others by social learning, and then transmit them to others. Cultural system produces a number of ethnic markers related to a particular group membership. Barth identified the critical feature of the ethnicity: people identify themselves, and are identified by others, as members of an ethnic groups based on a set of culturally transmitted characters.
Ethnic groups are marked by its members through boundaries with cultural diacritica such as language-dialect, dress-pattern, family structure etc., are the results of the actions of individuals on both sides of the boundary and their interactions across the boundary. These ethnic markers do not grow naturally from social bonding between individuals that share culture and origin, but results from actual acts of social distancing and closure vis-à-vis members of other categories.
The concept of 'Indianness' has evolved over centuries and can be revealed in terms of languages and regions, religions and sects, castes and sub-castes. Many of its elements are derived from Indian civilization, transcending diversities manifested in religious faiths, linguistic persuasions, regional and local variations. 'Indianness' as reflected by Indian diaspora is the product of synthesis of the memories of motherland passed on by the early settlers to their descendents through oral and institutional modes, and their real encounters with visiting cultural specialists from their imagined homeland.
Present paper analyses the notion of 'Indianness' as ethnic marker in various trans-locations and diasporic communities forming a strong and thriving Indian diaspora.
Issues of Ethnicity, Culture and Identity amongst the minority Malaysian
Issues of Ethnicityo Culture and Identity amongst the minority Malaysian
The minority Indian community in Malaysia is the third largest after the Malay and
Chinese communities. According to the 2000 census, they formed7.7 percent (1.7 million) of the
total Malaysian population. The majority of the Malaysian Indians are Tamil Hindus from South
India. The others are Malayalis, Telugus, Sikhs, Punjabis and other North Indians. This shows
that the Malaysian Indian Diaspora is characterized by diversity and divided by ethnicity,
language, religion, culture, caste and social class. The present Indian diasporic community in
Malaysia is the result of large scale immigration of labour mainly from South India by the then
colonial govemment to work in the rubber plantations.
Since Independence several state policies especially in the areas of education, economy
and culture have been formulated to forge national unity amongst the multi-ethnic population of
Malaysia. However, the preferential treatment for the Malay Bumiputera community, the rise of
fundamental Islam, the Islamisation of state policies and the Malay cultural dominance have all
impacted negatively towards national integration.
The continued neglect and marginalization of the Indian diasporic community have led
them to reassert their rights and redefine their identities. The protest organized by the Hindu
Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) in November 2007 had a significant effect on the psyche of the
working class Indian.
It is in this context that this paper will explore the issues of ethnicity, culture and identity
and discuss how this diasporic community is negotiating and redefining itself in the dynamic,
political, economic and social environments in Malaysia.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.