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Examining recent Mauritian literary publications and their dissemination in the publishing circuits that connects Mauritius to the African archipelago of the Comoros, and Mayotte in particular, this presentation explores new assemblages of Afro-Asian cultures in the Indian Ocean.
Contemporary Mauritian literature has prospered in the writings of Indo-Mauritian authors such as Ananda Devi, Nathacha Appanah, Shenaz Patel, as well as, more recently, Davina Ittoo and Priya Hein. While their Indian heritage has often been a source of inspiration for their work, these authors have also fervently denounced the entrenchment of ethno-religious identity in Mauritius that, by favouring a diasporic notion of identity over a creolised one, privileges Indo-Mauritians as the largest ethno-cultural group on the island and produces social inequalities.
Against the tensed geopolitical backdrop of Hindu nationalism in India and its influence in Mauritian politics, as well as the resurfacing of the history of slavery in the worldwide movement of Black Lives Matter, some of these authors are choosing to give prominence in their texts to the creolised cultural practices that have forged Mauritian multiculturalism. The talk will discuss how local publishing houses, book fairs, literary prizes and periodicals where Mauritian texts circulate create inter-islands networks that foster a creolised Indian Ocean imaginary.
Dr Rosa M C Beunel-Fogarty
Rosa recently completed her PhD titled 'Creolising archipelagos: gender, race and spatiality in novels from the South-West Indian Ocean islands'.
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