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Title: Vaishnavism and indentured labour in Mauritian literature
Author: Rajkomar, Sraddha Shivani
ISNI:       0000 0004 2740 6916
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis addresses two key issues of postcolonial studies that remain under- represented in Anglophone academic circles: the history of Indian indentured labour in Mauritius that began in the nineteenth century and ended in the twentieth century; and the importance of religion in representations of histories of arbitrary colonial control and anti-colonialist struggle. Cross-disciplinary in scope, the thesis nevertheless adopts a literary methodological approach in the examination of poetic and prose texts written by four Mauritian authors from extremely diverse religious and social backgrounds who share a common interest in the fraught history of indenture. These authors are: Leoville L'Homme (1857-1928), Robert-Edward Hart (1891-1954), Marcel Cabon (1912-1972), and Abhimanyu Unnuth (1937- ). Each author's engagement with Vaishnavism, a Hindu tradition, shapes and reflects the visceral individual experiences of a chapter of Mauritian history that brought about one of the most important demographic, social and political changes in the island. In the Introduction, I provide extensive methodological, historical and conceptual contextualisation for the thesis, and establish indenture to be a traumatic phenomenon on a scale that is comparable to that of its predecessor, slavery. The subsequent chapters - which further contribute to postcolonial studies by participating in debates such as Orientalism, colonial desire and masculinity - are each devoted to one author and their relevant texts. In Chapters 1 and 2, I argue that using Vaishnavism, the religion of the colonised, by members of the colonial elite in representations of indenture inevitably consolidates colonialist control in a discursive manner. In Chapters 3 and 4, I look at how the same religion empowers the colonised subject in overcoming the trauma of indenture and in resistance to the sugar plantation system. To conclude, I reflect on the scope of the thesis and its contribution to postcolonial scholarship.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available