Chapter 5 Cultural Plurality and Migration in Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies and River of Smoke

In: Amitav Ghosh’s Culture Chromosome
Author: Kuldeep Mathur

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In the midst of Indian feudalism, in a society divided according to castes and under the pressure of imperial indenture system among the girmitiya people, egalitarian solidarity and cultural pluralism thrive almost surprisingly. Indentured labourers in the Indian Ocean seize a unique occasion to re-invent their identities as jahaji-bhai and jahaji-bahen. Syncretism, in Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy, is marked by an exceptional resilience illustrated by Indian indenture labourers while adapting to new sets of socio-cultural milieus in an unexplored geo-political condition of the host cultural space. The focal point of this essay is the trajectory undertaken by the indentured people in dissolving the barriers between communities, nations, and individuals for a cosmopolitan welfare. The essay also studies the evolution of hybrid identities of the jahaji-bhais and jahaji-bahens and the routes/roots of cultural endurance and South Asian cosmopolitanism.

Amitav Ghosh’s Culture Chromosome

Anthropology, Epistemology, Ethics, Space