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Mayotte, a French department since 2011 despite being socially, culturally and geographically one of the Comoro Islands, has in recent years been a primary destination for migrants from the neighbouring island of Ndzuani. The strains placed upon the infrastructure of Mayotte have led to increasing acts of violence against these migrants, while the French state deports them in their thousands. However, while economics and politics may be the ostensible cause of resentment towards these people, the fact that the two islands have much in common, and that the majority of the population of Mayotte are descended from earlier migrants from Ndzuani, suggest that deeper social forces are at work. In this paper I explore the often antagonistic, often intimate relationships between the two groups, drawing upon the concept of mimesis to analyse the encounter between two peoples who are, in different ways, subaltern in their own land.

Open Access
In: Across the Waves
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Abstract

In 1975, when the Comoro Islands achieved independence, the people of one of the islands, Mayotte, voted to remain French. This choice was based on a longstanding desire to escape the hegemony of the two larger islands, but it came to be expressed as the product of a distinct social and cultural profile, a rejection of things Comorian underpinned by specific claims both to hybridity and to a French identity. As the implications of political incorporation into the French state became clearer, however, and now that the threat of incorporation into the independent Comorian state has receded, ambivalence towards being French has grown. This chapter analyses how different expressions of identity are played out in daily practice and how the tensions implicit in recognizing a Comorian identity are negotiated. The islanders confront political and cultural choices that on the one hand challenge their social practices while on the other threatening their economic and political security.

In: Travelling Pasts: The Politics of Cultural Heritage in the Indian Ocean World
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Abstract

In 1975, when the Comoro Islands achieved independence, the people of one of the islands, Mayotte, voted to remain French. This choice was based on a longstanding desire to escape the hegemony of the two larger islands, but it came to be expressed as the product of a distinct social and cultural profile, a rejection of things Comorian underpinned by specific claims both to hybridity and to a French identity. As the implications of political incorporation into the French state became clearer, however, and now that the threat of incorporation into the independent Comorian state has receded, ambivalence towards being French has grown. This chapter analyses how different expressions of identity are played out in daily practice and how the tensions implicit in recognizing a Comorian identity are negotiated. The islanders confront political and cultural choices that on the one hand challenge their social practices while on the other threatening their economic and political security.

In: Travelling Pasts: The Politics of Cultural Heritage in the Indian Ocean World
In: Across the Waves
In: Across the Waves
In: Across the Waves
Strategies of Belonging in Indian Ocean Island Societies
Volume Editors: and
All the islands of the western Indian Ocean are immigrant societies: Austronesian seafarers, African slaves, Arab traders, South Asian indentured labourers and European plantation owners have all settled, some voluntarily, others less so, on Madagascar and Zanzibar, in the Mascarenes and the Comoros. Successive arrivals often struggle to establish their places in these societies, negotiating their way in the face of antipathy, resistance, even violence, as different claims to belonging conflict. The contributions to this volume take a selection of case studies from across the region, and from different perspectives, contributing to a theorisation of the concept of belonging itself.

Contributors are Patrick Desplat, Franziska Fay, Marie-Aude Fouéré, Akbar Keshodkar, Hans Olsson, Gitanjali Pyndiah, Ramola Ramtohul, Iain Walker