We are delighted to introduce this special issue of the journal which comprises a selection of papers presented at the Anglo-Indian Studies Research Seminar hosted by Calcutta University on 21 December 2018. The seminar was co-convened by Dr Selvyn Jussy of the University of Calcutta, along with us, the journal editors, Brent H. Otto and Robyn Andrews. Since the inauguration in 2013 of the Derozio Anglo-Indian Research Collection at the Central Library of the University of Calcutta, we have aimed to hold an annual event for scholars of Anglo-Indian Studies. Except for this year, for obvious pandemic-related reasons, we have achieved this. After the December 2018 conference we looked at various options for publishing the conference proceedings for the benefit of scholars of Anglo-Indian Studies who could not attend and those interested scholars in related fields of studies. We settled on the International Journal of Anglo-Indian Studies as the most appropriate, given that it is the only academic forum dedicated to the study of the colonial mixed-race community of South Asia.
In addition to the papers presented in this issue, others were given at the conference, as the programme below indicates:
Anglo-Indian Studies Research Seminar
Ritwik Hall, Hardinge Building, College Street
21 December 2018
11am – WELCOME AND OPENING REMARKS
11:15 – 12:05 SESSION 1: ANGLO-INDIANS AND SCHOOLS
Physical Culture of Schools in Colonial Bengal: An Anglo-Indian Context
Amitava Chatterjee - Associate Professor of History, Kazi Nazrul University, Asansol, West Bengal, India
Reason as Rhetoric: Use of Language in Deciding Institutional Autonomy for Anglo-Indian Schools
Upamanyu Sengupta – Assistant Professor, Maharashtra National Law University, Mumbai
12:05 – 12:20am Morning Tea
12:20 – 1:35pm SESSION 2: IN KOLKATA
Which Eurasians Can Speak? Elite Politics, the Lower Classes and Contested Eurasian Identity
Brent Howitt Otto - PhD Student, Department of History, University of California - Berkeley, U.S.A.
The Politics of ‘Post-’ in ‘Colonial’ Nationalism of Postcolonial India: Racialization and Museumization of the Anglo-Indian community of Bow Barracks, Calcutta: A Documentary Study
*Sayan Dey - Lecturer, Department of English, Royal Thimphu College, Bhutan
Digital Mediation of Ageing and Intimacy Among Elderly Anglo-Indians in Kolkata
*Brian Gomes - PhD Research Scholar, IIT KANPUR Department of Sociology, Kanpur, India
1:35 – 2pm Lunch Break
2 – 3:15pm SESSION 3: PERSPECTIVES ON IDENTITY
Anglo-Indians qua “Variable Populations”: Cedric Dover and the Vacuity of Race in Colonial India
Debojoy Chanda - Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication, Indian Institute of Management, Sirmaur, India
Marginal Europeans in Colonial India
Sarmistha De - Archivist, State Archives of West Bengal, Kolkata, India
Colonial Birds of Passage: Migrant Anglo-Indian Female Laborers in England
**Rochelle Almeida - Clinical Professor of Global Cultures, New York University, USA
3:15 – 3:30pm Afternoon Tea
3:30 – 4:45pm SESSION 4: PERSPECTIVES ON IDENTITY (CONTINUED)
Pondicherry Anglo-Indians: Back into the Fold
Robyn Andrews - Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology, Massey University, New Zealand
Through the ‘Culinary’ Lens: Re-viewing Cultural History in Anglo-Indian Recipes
Shyamasri Maji - Assistant Professor of English, Durgapur Women’s College, West Bengal, India
4:45pm CONCLUDING REMARKS
* For personal unforeseen reasons neither Sayan Dey nor Brian Gomes were able to present their papers.
** While this is the title of the paper Rochelle Almeida presented, to avoid co-publication complications, we have included in this issue a paper she presented in Chennai in January 2019 at a different Anglo-Indian Studies event.
Of the papers presented at the conference, we include in this issue those authored by Upamanyu Sengupta, Brent Howitt Otto, Debojoy Chanda, Rochelle Almeida, and Robyn Andrews. They retain the form in which they were presented at the conference.
Upamanyu Sengupta’s ‘Reason as Rhetoric: Use of Language in Deciding Institutional Autonomy for Anglo-Indian Schools’ is based on his content analysis of three Calcutta High Court decisions . These decisions were heard in 1984, 1994 and 2016 and were based on interpretations of Article 30 (1), concerning the right of the Anglo-Indian community to establish and administer educational institutions. He argues that the judgments may be seen as “sites actively mapping out questions of identity for the Anglo-Indian community in relation to institutional spaces”.
Brent Howitt Otto’s paper, ‘Which Eurasians Can Speak? Elite Politics, the Lower Classes and Contested Eurasian Identity’, continues the theme of Anglo-Indian identity at a much earlier point in history, the early nineteenth century. Taking an anonymously authored poem published in a colonial English language journal as a starting point, Otto explores how beneath the surface its lines reveal a history of contestation within the Anglo-Indian community over the portrayal of Anglo-Indian character, racial status and political loyalties to metropolitan and colonial society.
Debojoy Chanda makes an examination of the work of early twentieth century Anglo-Indian social scientist Cedric Dover in his paper ‘Anglo-Indians Qua “Variable Populations:” Cedric Dover and the Vacuity of Race in Colonial India’. He posits that Dover’s anti-racist writing was a clarion call to Anglo-Indians and those interacting with them. Chanda argues that Dover identifies the supremacist nature of the British in their dealing with Anglo-Indians, based on their flawed racist thinking. Chanda, drawing on Dover, concludes with a more generalised and global call against racist thinking and the prejudice that accompanies it.
In Rochelle Almeida’s paper, ‘Westward Ho! Anglo-Indian (Eurasian) mass-migration and the role of Indian ports in mid-twentieth century passenger and steamer culture’ she examines aspects of the sea journeys Anglo-Indians took when migrating to Britain, between 1948 and 1964, prior to air service becoming the preferred travel option. Her paper is based on a wealth of oral accounts and memorabilia shared in her interviews with Anglo-Indians in Britain who recalled aspects of their passage including: the entertainment, cuisine, stops on the way, friendships made, and their arrival.
Returning to India as the site of research, Robyn Andrews’ paper ‘Pondicherry Anglo-Indians: back into the fold’ draws on material from her ethnographic fieldwork as well as Cheryl-Ann Shivan’s historical research to interrogate the influence of ‘place’ on Anglo-Indian identity. Anglo-Indians were denied permission to form a branch of the All India Anglo-Indian Association in Pondicherry, based, erroneously, on the assumption that there were no Anglo-Indians of the English-speaking type dwelling in Pondicherry, a former French colony. The paper traces a history of such Anglo-Indians in the city, and the practices they observe. It also examines challenges and strategies they have faced, and continue to face, as English-speaking Anglo-Indians in post-colonial Pondicherry.
We hope that these conference proceedings prove an inspiration for scholars to continue their studies of Anglo-Indians, to network with those already actively researching, writing and presenting in the field, and to be attentive to future Anglo-Indian studies conferences. We encourage our readers to follow us on Facebook, visit the journal website regularly, and make use of the archive of issues going back to the founding of the International Journal of Anglo-Indian Studies in 1996.
Robyn Andrews holds a Ph.D. in social anthropology from Massey University in New Zealand, where she is a senior lecturer in anthropology. Her Ph.D. thesis was on the Anglo-Indian Community (2005), about which she continues to research and write extensively in collaboration with other Anglo-Indian Studies scholars in various disciplines. Contactable via [email protected]
Brent Howitt Otto, S.J. is a Ph.D. candidate in South Asian History at the University of California, Berkeley. In the course of post-graduate degrees in international and global history from Columbia University and the London School of Economics, and a theological degree in Indian Church history, Brent has researched Indian Catholic education, Anglo-Indian migration and diaspora, and Christian religious identity and performance. Contactable via [email protected]
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