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Title: Indians as French citizens in colonial Indochina, 1858-1940
Author: Pairaudeau, Natasha
ISNI:       0000 0004 2677 6739
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2009
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This study demonstrates how Indians with French citizenship were able through their stay in Indochina to have some say in shaping their position within the French colonial empire, and how in turn they made their mark on Indochina itself. Known as 'renouncers', they gained their citizenship by renouncing their personal laws in order to to be judged by the French civil code. Mainly residing in Cochinchina, they served primarily as functionaries in the French colonial administration, and spent the early decades of their stay battling to secure recognition of their electoral and civil rights in the colony. Their presence in Indochina in turn had an important influence on the ways in which the peoples of Indochina experienced and assessed French colonialism. Indochina was important to French India from the late-nineteenth century, I maintain, because of the way renouncers were able to develop social and political agendas over long distances to secure their rights within the French empire. I further the study of late-colonial migrations from British India by adding a trajectory under French colonial conditions to other better-known itineraries. I advance thinking on migration by showing how movements stimulated the circulation not just of goods and labour but of ideas. I support claims that colonised peoples were not passive agents, and bring to the fore the struggles of colonised people fighting not against, but within a colonial framework. I reinstate the Indian presence in the colonial history of Vietnam, not only to support the restoration to southern Vietnam of its historical social diversity, or to draw attention to long-neglected minority groups. The thesis, I argue, brings new insights to the complexities of colonial encounters. The presence of Indian French citizens in colonial Indochina generated encounters between Indians and Vietnamese which were outside of French control. In so doing it highlighted not the strengths but the inherent weaknesses of colonial rule.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral