This general issue of the journal comprises two articles and two book reviews. The articles are time specific: one focusses on the current Covid 19 pandemic and its effects on Anglo-Indians, and the other explores the intellectual impact of D’Cruz’s book, Midnight’s Orphans, fifteen years since its publication. The book reviews are of recent publications.
The first article, by Brian Gomes and Jillet Sarah Sam, is based on their ethnographic research designed to understand the impact of elderly Anglo-Indians living through the Covid-19 pandemic. They focus on elderly Anglo-Indians living in the community (rather than in residential care) in Calcutta, and explore various ‘care systems’ they found to be in place which helped to meet physical and emotional needs through a disturbing and challenging time. Their findings indicate that these care systems blend kin and non-kin networks, were organised sometimes informally or more formally, and included institutional relief efforts from organisations and churches. It also highlights what resources and networks are available to elderly Anglo-Indians, and how they operate.
The next article, authored by Debojoy Chanda, assess a seminal Anglo-Indian text published fifteen years ago. Chanda offers an overview of the content of Glenn D’Cruz’s, Midnight’s Orphans (2006), as well as a consideration of the impact on Anglo-Indian Studies scholarship since its publication. Chanda argues for its timeliness and ongoing relevance in considering the proliferation of Anglo-Indian stereotyping, particularly in literature but also in other mediums such as film. He praises D’Cruz’s scholarship as well as his courage in taking a personal approach to the stereotyping by addressing the impact on his own family, as part of the community.
One book review, by Shyamasri Maji, assesses a new collected volume entitled Beyond the Metros: Anglo-Indians in India’s smaller town and cities (2021). In addition to offering readers chapter-by-chapter summaries she recommends its value for scholars of Anglo-Indian Studies and across disciplines in that it stands alone as a collection of studies of this community in non-metro city locations, which paint a textured portrait of the internal diversity of the community. Its ethnographic lived-reality approach also offers an alternative to the tropes commonly and homogeneously addressed, and it may inspire readers to revise their conceptions of the community, and of the nation.
The final contribution to this issue is a book review by Vishwajeet Deshmukh on R. Kochhar’s recently published, English Education in India, 1715-1835 (2021). Deshmukh assesses Kochhar’s work as a new addition to a crowded field of studies in the last century and a half on the development of English education in India, its politics and purposes, and short and long term effects on the course of colonialism and beyond. While noting Kochhar’s study is new, Deshmukh deems it a modest contribution. He notes the imprecise, pejorative or freighted nature of terms he uses such as “half-caste” to describe one stage of the development of English education. He also points out the book’s evidentiary tilt towards colonial British perspectives, which leaves gaps in understanding how English education was received by its Indian pupils. This leaves the mixed-race group he identifies as an original focus of English Education no better understood and possibly viewed with greater prejudice.
Robyn Andrews holds a Ph.D. in social anthropology from Massey University in New Zealand, where she is an Associate Professor 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. She has most recently co-edited: Anglo-Indian Identity: Past and Present, in India and the Diaspora (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021) and Beyond the Metros: Anglo-Indians in India’s smaller towns and cities (Primus, 2021). 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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