Beyond boundaries
Amarinder Sandhu

Tracing an Indian Diaspora: Contexts, Memories, Representations
Eds. Parvati Raghuram, Ajaya Kumar Sahoo, Brij Maharaj and Dave Sangha.
Pages 467. Rs 850.

THE Indian diaspora is a current topic for discussion and there have been several interpretations of it. The Indian diaspora has its presence in more than a hundred countries. Till the early 1990ís the diaspora was synonymous to Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) as a means for economic investment though attempts are being made to understand its aspects in a global context.

This volume is divided into four sections and the chapters of this book are not clear-cut. Many scholars have made their contributions to this book. The first section deals with the indentured diaspora that has its roots in the colonial period. The demand for cheap labour provided an impetus for the migration of Indians through the indenture, kangany and maistry system. Rai traces the diaspora in Myanmar, Malaya and Singapore.

The Indians in Myanmar and Malaysia are marginalised, though their position in Singapore is secure. Belle studies the Indians as the "forgotten Malaysians", where the Hindu Indians are relegated to the fringes of society and the festival of Thaipusan is a means of assertion of Hindu identity. Providing an overview of`A0the history and conflict between the ethnic Fijians and the Indo-Fijians, Srebrnik delves into the present conditions of the Indian community in Fiji. Basdeo and Samaroo trace the life trajectories of four Indo-Carribean political leaders and highlight the successful attempts made by these educated descendents of gurmityas to live peacefully in a multi-racial society.

The second section is about the "new Indian diaspora" where Indians have migrated from a free India to developed nations. The new diasporics were better equipped than their indentured counterparts and now live more transnationally. Advancement in communication has helped them maintain links with the country of their origin and the host nation. Maira focuses on the experiences of Indian Muslim youth in the US after 09/11 and how they find themselves enmeshed in the maze of war against terrorism and lost between home and the host country. Gottschlich exemplifies the formal participation and influence of the Indian Americans in the US political arena. Raghuram highlights how changes in immigration and citizenship regulations in the UK have effected the shape of the diaspora. Barn examines the experiences of the second generation of Indian parents in the UK in transmitting their heritage language to their offsprings.

The third section covers the concept of identification among the diasporics. Concentrating on the Inayati Sufi movement, Glenn studies a spiritual/religious movement that has reestablished links with India. Leonard provides an interesting analysis of the mulkis spread all over and their memories of Hyderabadi culture. Pandurang explores the imaginations of moving abroad among college-going Gujrati girls. Miller highlights the importance of landscape in rural Tamil literature and how the construction of the Lakshmi Temple in Boston symbolises the "Tamilisation of space". Bukhart addresses the complex issue of sexuality`A0among gay South Asian men in North America.

The fourth section represents the`A0diaspora as presented in writings, plays and films. De explores the recontextualisation of Tagoreís play "Raktakarabi/Red Oleanders" which was enacted for a Bengali American audience. Using`A0popular`A0culture and films, Bhattacharya highlights the relationship between Hinduism and transnationalism. Naidu analyses the writings of female authors from the Indian diaspora and offers a few suggestions. Singh explores the female characters of the author Meena Alexanderís texts and Wilson continues the theme by analysing Maniamís Between Lives. Mehta using Moutoussamyís Passerelle de vie (The Bridge of Life) uncovers the multiplicity of diaspora reflected through the personality of a dougla woman.

This volume can be useful for teachers and students of social sciences and diaspora studies. The references at the back of each chapter are excellent and the book heralds the beginning of a new discipline of study.