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Abstract

Emerging from a research project titled ‘The Indian Ocean as a Memory Space’ within the afraso (Africa’s Asian Options) project at Goethe University, this chapter presents the analyses of a memoir recently published in Kenya, Pheroze Nowrojee’s A Kenyan Journey. Nowrojee’s book is a family memoir published in 2014 by the Chair of the Asian African Heritage Trust in Kenya, an organization whose Afrasian activities are also analysed in this chapter. A Kenyan Journey writes the silenced Indian experience into the archive of Kenyan history. The book also ‘writes back’ to the former imperial ‘centre’ in pursuit of postcolonial justice for 31,983 indentured Indian railway workers who arrived from India to build the Uganda railway – a transcultural memory site in its own right, with its involvement of British colonialists and South Asian as well as East African workers. Of significance in Nowrojee’s memory text is the double address that characterises it. It targets two archives of memory: the archive of British imperial memory, which silences and misrepresents the Indian experience (insofar his memoir is a medium of ‘postcolonial memory’), and the archive of the Kenyan nation, into which the Indian experience has not yet been inserted (insofar it is a medium promoting ‘memory citizenship’). While analysing memory-making within Afrasian spaces in Kenya, this chapter argues that unlike competitive memory, multidirectional memory and inclusive memory have the potential to create solidarity across the Afrasian Sea world. Questioning of the strong links between memory and (simplified notions of) identity is at the basis of multidirectional memory. It is a form of remembering that finds ways to move beyond, cross-imagine, and recombine particular memories and identities.

In: Afrasian Transformations

Abstract

Emerging from a research project titled ‘The Indian Ocean as a Memory Space’ within the afraso (Africa’s Asian Options) project at Goethe University, this chapter presents the analyses of a memoir recently published in Kenya, Pheroze Nowrojee’s A Kenyan Journey. Nowrojee’s book is a family memoir published in 2014 by the Chair of the Asian African Heritage Trust in Kenya, an organization whose Afrasian activities are also analysed in this chapter. A Kenyan Journey writes the silenced Indian experience into the archive of Kenyan history. The book also ‘writes back’ to the former imperial ‘centre’ in pursuit of postcolonial justice for 31,983 indentured Indian railway workers who arrived from India to build the Uganda railway – a transcultural memory site in its own right, with its involvement of British colonialists and South Asian as well as East African workers. Of significance in Nowrojee’s memory text is the double address that characterises it. It targets two archives of memory: the archive of British imperial memory, which silences and misrepresents the Indian experience (insofar his memoir is a medium of ‘postcolonial memory’), and the archive of the Kenyan nation, into which the Indian experience has not yet been inserted (insofar it is a medium promoting ‘memory citizenship’). While analysing memory-making within Afrasian spaces in Kenya, this chapter argues that unlike competitive memory, multidirectional memory and inclusive memory have the potential to create solidarity across the Afrasian Sea world. Questioning of the strong links between memory and (simplified notions of) identity is at the basis of multidirectional memory. It is a form of remembering that finds ways to move beyond, cross-imagine, and recombine particular memories and identities.

In: Afrasian Transformations

Abstract

This conversation with the author Neera Kapur-Dromson took place in Nairobi, Kenya, on 9th March 2018 during filming of the documentary film ‘Afrasian Memories in East Africa’ in which Neera Kapur-Dromson features. Neera Kapur-Dromson lives in France and Kenya. She is the author of the book ‘From Jhelum to Tana’. Here, Neera-Kapur Dromson reflects upon transregional interactions across the Indian Ocean as a memory space through life histories of various generations of her ancestors, various actors within the cosmopolitanisms of the Indian Ocean and her own experiences. She discusses how specific Indian Ocean societies experienced, were shaped by and negotiated multiple transformations related but not limited to nation-state politics, transoceanic trade, citizenship politics, colonial railway projects, identity politics, religion and transculturality as migrations, colonialism, and resultant interactions occurred across time and space. Her discussion visualises and demystifies the emergence of entangled Afrasian transregional spaces within the complexity of cosmopolitan societies across the Indian Ocean. The film was part of an international research project at Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany, titled Africa’s Asian Options (AFRASO). It was launched during an AFRASO symposium titled “Afrasian Entanglements: Current Dynamics and Future Perspectives in India-Africa Relations” at the University of Mumbai in June 2018.

In: Matatu
Transregional Perspectives on Development Cooperation, Social Mobility, and Cultural Change
African-Asian interactions contribute to the emergence of a decentred, multi-polar world in which different actors need to redefine themselves and their relations to each other. Afrasian Transformations explores these changes to map out several arenas where these transformations have already produced startling results: development politics, South-South cooperation, cultural memory, mobile lifeworlds and transcultural connectivity. The contributions in this volume neither celebrate these shifting dynamics as felicitous proof of a new age of South-South solidarity, nor do they debunk them as yet another instance of burgeoning geopolitical hegemony. Instead, they seek to come to terms with the ambivalences, contradictions and potential benefits entailed in these transformations – that are also altering our understanding of (trans)area in an increasingly globalized world.

Contributors include: Seifudein Adem, Nafeesah Allen, Jan Beek, Tom De Bruyn, Casper Hendrik Claassen, Astrid Erll, Hanna Getachew Amare, John Njenga Karugia, Guive Khan-Mohammad, Vinay Lal, Pavan Kumar Malreddy, Jamie Monson, Diderot Nguepjouo, Satwinder S. Rehal, Ute Röschenthaler, Alexandra Samokhvalova, Darryl C. Thomas, and Sophia Thubauville.

Abstract

The present volume explores a wide variety of Afrasian transformations in the social world as well as in academic practice and maps out arenas such as development politics, South-South cooperation, cultural memory, mobile lifeworlds and transcultural connectivity where these transformations have already produced startling results. The contributions to this volume eschew grand narratives such as ‘the revival of South-South solidarity’ or ‘China’s new colonisation of Africa’ and instead seek to come to terms with the ambivalences, contradictions, and potential benefits entailed in Afrasian transformations – that are also altering our understanding of (trans)area in an increasingly globalized world. In this volume, ‘Afrasia’ neither denotes a new territorial container nor a new geopolitical mega-area, but stands for an emerging space of connective interaction and a new heuristics for coming to terms with entangled areas and intertwined histories in a decentred world that can no longer be grasped through the Eurocentric categories that dominated the theory and practice of area studies for so long.

The contributions to this volume share a concern with the conceptual innovations required to sustain a transregional perspective and seek to explore possibilities of new transregional practices of ‘doing area’ from below that move beyond the habitual corridors of North-South relations into the wider – if often puzzling – terrain of South-South interactions in an increasingly multipolar world. It is on this terrain that the Afrasian stories of social, political, economic, and cultural interactions – of African viewers of Philippine telenovelas, of ‘fake’ and ‘original’ motorcycles in Burkina Faso, of Cameroonian villagers selling possibly invented traditions to Chinese mining operators, and of African students’ dreams of world class education in Malaysia – are played out. Understanding Afrasian transformations in the social world means learning to orientate oneself on this terrain – and continuing to transform the theoretical frameworks that inform our disciplinary knowledges.

In: Afrasian Transformations
In: Afrasian Transformations