The Forms and Functions of Hybridity in Allan Sealy's "The Trotter-Nama"


  • Jade Furness


The Trotter-nama by Allan Sealy is a novel written in magical realist style that covers the lives of seven generations of Trotters, an Anglo-Indian family whose lineage in India began with Justin Trottoire, a French mercenary, in the 1750’s.


This research essay examines how the concept of hybridity in The Trotter-nama serves to break down the hierarchical binary logic of pure/impure, original/copy, authentic/inauthentic, whole/half, real/unreal, true/false notions within the context of the colonial encounter in British India. It examines the forms and functions of hybridity in the novel, interrogating its application within post-colonial theory and selecting textual enactments of racial and cultural hybridity that support the unravelling of such binary oppositions.


Sealy’s purpose in destabilising the binary logic of colonialism that still pervades much of Western thought is to create a narrative and mythological space for the racially mixed Anglo-Indians who were written out of any official history of British India. Through the narrative mode of ‘magical realism’, Sealy situates Anglo-Indians at the centre of the colonial encounter, erasing determinate borders between the literal and metaphorical, thereby creating a new discourse that is as legitimate as any existing, authoritative ones. Sealy is not however, suggesting that this is the definitive account of the Anglo-Indian community in India, for there is no such true or original record. There are only multiple stories of multiple identities that shift and change over time.