Pondicherry Anglo-Indians: Back into the Fold


  • Robyn Andrews


The South Indian town of Pondicherry has long been a site of contestation about who can identify as Anglo-Indian, of exclusion and inclusion, and at times a refusal to acknowledge the range of histories of those who claim such an identity. The contemporary situation, based on ethnographic research including interviews carried out in late 2014, indicates that a complex interplay of French, English and Tamil histories has led to unique challenges and opportunities for Anglo-Indians. Opportunities arose when the French left Pondicherry in 1954, leaving clerical and administrative positions open for Anglo-Indians to fill. But there have been challenges, such as being distanced by many of the French and Tamil resident population, as well as the significant challenge of the All India Anglo-Indian Association refusing to allow an association branch to be established there. Since late 2017 however, this latter situation has changed, as I will describe. In this presentation I report on the experiences and views expressed in interviews, my own impressions, and data from Cheryl-Ann Shivan, resident of Pondicherry and Anglo-Indian studies scholar.