Domicile and Domesticity Although Anglo-Indians were domiciled in India, many felt a closer affinity to the West, as reflected by their culture, language, religion, home life, dress and education. In this particular they typify their occupants who, rooted in Indian soil, yet look forlornly towards the West — the Mecca of their hopes and desires. In short, there are some who might pass easily for Europeans and others who would be indistinguishable from Indians, while between these extremes of dark and fair there are many shades fading into each other. In this section I explore imperial anxieties about the Anglo-Indian community that revolved around poverty and degeneracy, which in turn reflected wider concerns about the very existence of a domiciled community and were most clearly articulated in debates about housing.
By keeping them in the plains they grow up generally lanky, degenerate looking men. Anglo-Indians formed a largely urban community, reflecting an early policy of the East India Company, which prohibited its servants settling down on the land in India. Anglo-Indians and Europeans who were under the protection of the East India Company were warned that they would forfeit any claim for protection of their person and property if they lived beyond a ten mile radius of the head-quarters of the British garrison. Housing became a particular site of imperial anxiety, not only because it made Anglo-Indian poverty visible — and as a starkly visible contrast to imperial domesticity — but also because it disrupted the racial distancing that underpinned colonial urbanism.
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These anxieties were particularly acute in large cities such as Calcutta. Calcutta was, after London, the second largest city in the British Empire and was, until , the capital of British India. Calcutta also remained the intellectual and political heart of the Anglo-Indian community, as shown by its history of political petitioning and organization, the activities and publications of the Calcutta Study Circle in the s,53 and the regular newspaper column written by one of its members, Reginald Maher, in the Statesman.
Spanning education, employment, health and physique, crime and drunkenness, and available means of relief, the report concluded that poor-quality and expensive housing was the main problem facing AngloIndians in Calcutta. As seven photographs in the report show including Figures 2. Both the visibility of Anglo-Indian poverty through their residence in slums and overcrowded tenement buildings, and their social relations and practices of everyday life, were interpreted in ways that reproduced racialized discourses of morality and domesticity.
As the report continues, In many cases lads and girls of 14 to 18 years of age are sleeping in the same hut, with the inevitable result that the girl is ruined morally and physically at an early age. Many early marriages are simply the result of over-crowding among young people and, as a consequence, we have succeeding generations of weaklings, diseased and weak-minded poverty-stricken people.
In view of the tendencies which seem to have a special hold on the young of both sexes in India the use of spiced food appears extremely unwise. Calcutta: The Bengal Secretariat Press, p. By permission of the British Library Figure 2.
But within Calcutta and other Indian cities, poverty amongst the lower classes of the Anglo-Indian community was interpreted in racialized as well as class terms that revolved around domicile and domesticity. Its hardships in an Indian city for people of even modified Western habits and mental outlook are indescribable. The dangers of slum life in an oriental city for the children, particularly the girls of such a community, can scarcely be imagined by people who have never lived in the East.
The employment of Indian servants and a fear of losing caste must be held mainly responsible for the unwillingness of so many of the Anglo-Indians to use their hands. Hostels were seen as particularly important in fostering the security and moral welfare of young Anglo-Indian women, who were thought to be vulnerable in cities such as Calcutta.
These dangers. Miss Moinet expressed this view most strongly: I am thoroughly in favour of an English lady being in charge, or in any case not an Anglo-Indian, for the following reasons: a The standards of a good Englishwoman morally, artistically and mentally, are higher than those of an Anglo-Indian, and if an Englishwoman really lives with the girls, eats with them, and shares their lives, you really do get a big hold over the girls and are able to influence them. This has been shown again and again. As she continued, Anglo-Indian girls of the poorer class are generally untidy and wasteful.
The Superintendent should always know where a girl has gone and with whom. The want of a strong sense of modesty should be guarded against. Many of these women are in need of paid work, which makes it all the more desirable to try and employ them. Where character and example are of such importance, we feel it is essential that for hostels for either sex the wardens should be from Home. Employing British women as wardens of hostels for young Anglo-Indian women in Calcutta was seen as the main way to foster feminine propriety and domestic respectability, both of which were thought to be at risk through domicile in India.
We know that, already, the enquiry is by some regarded as an impertinence.
Whereas the official enquiry of —2 and the non-official enquiry of —19 focused on poverty and poor housing, debates among middle-class Anglo-Indians concentrated on the political status and future of the community, both of which were articulated through very different representations of home and femininity.
The book ends with a postscript that considers the uncertain position of Anglo-Indians in the s in the context of Indianization and the struggle for independence. Stressing the continued loyalty and affiliation of Anglo-Indians to their European — and, specifically, English — forefathers, Stark also describes their attachment to India: If England is the land of our fathers, India is the land of our mothers. If to us England is a hallowed memory, India is a living verity. If England is the land of our pilgrimage, India is the land of our homes. If England is dear as a land of inspiring traditions, India is loved for all that she means to us in our daily life.
Although Anglo-Indians might have a dual affinity with Britain and India, Stark claims their British ancestry and heritage as paramount and questions the very idea of India as home. Who are these if not thy sons? Seeking to protect their reserved jobs and political representation, Gidney stressed the dual loyalty of Anglo-Indians to both Britain and India: We represent in our very bodies a synthesis of India and Britain as no other people do or can do, a fusion of East and West.
Moreover, we are the sons of the soil, a people whose roots are deep, not only in the soil, history and traditions of India, where we live, work and die in the pursuit of our daily avocations, but in the soil and history of this great country — England. The Anglo-Indian of today knows and loves India as a motherland. Small wonder — they were inherited pictures at the best. It is significant that the Anglo-Indian now speaks of going to England and not of going home as his father did before him. Anglo-Indian images of India as motherland in the years before Independence were fundamentally different from the images of Bharat Mata — Mother India — invoked by anti-imperial nationalists.
Rather than represent a Hindu vision of a united India, Anglo-Indian images of the motherland sought to identify the national loyalty of a small, Christian minority. Crucially, Anglo-Indian images of India as motherland existed alongside images of Britain as fatherland, encapsulating a dual sense of home, identity and nationality that was both separate and conjoined.
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This dual affiliation served both to manifest and to erase a collective memory of mixed descent. Home, Identity and Nationality During his leadership of the Anglo-Indian community from until his death in , Henry Gidney stressed Anglo-Indian ties to Britain as fatherland, emphasized economic rather than political concerns in the face of Indianization, and gained some concessions from the British Government in the late s and early s.
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As a member of the deputation explained: I think it would be best if we stood as a distinct community as Anglo-Indians, because as Anglo-Indians we would have the lighter and the darker boys together. My second son passes off as a European, blond, blue eyes. It did divide families. For Deborah, a former Dow Hill pupil who migrated to Britain in , There are six different shades of colour in an Anglo-Indian family. And it often happened that those who could pass off as non-Indian and totally white [did so]. What happens in the next generation is a big question mark because it can skip a couple of generations and come out, and it does.
And my family have never lived with any lies, we are proud of what we are. To this end, he stressed Anglo-Indian links to Britain and sought to secure recognition of Anglo-Indians as permanent British settlers rather than as Statutory Natives of India. But in contrast, by the time of the Round Table Conferences of —1, Gidney began to describe a dual affinity to both Britain and India, which revealed the early stages of a broader shift in ideas of Britain and India as home.
We are a synthesis of India and Britain as no other people are or can be. Rather than seek a future in Britain or elsewhere in the British Empire, Gidney for the first time stressed that the future for Anglo-Indians lay in India. And yet he imagined the future of both the Anglo-Indian community and India itself as securely located within the British Empire.
As he argued in the Minorities Sub-Committee in , Whatever may be the future of India, the Anglo-Indian community is, for better or for worse, an indissoluble part of that future. We are an Indian community: we are the sons of the soil. We accept the implications of our Indian nationality and we look forward to a glorious future for our mother country. But by blood I belong also to Britain. For me, therefore, there is no antagonism between India and Britain.
They are both my countries. References to Britain as fatherland and India as motherland became increasingly prominent in Anglo-Indian journals and political debates over the course of the s. But such images were contested. In , for example, Reginald Maher described three main generational differences. Reflecting the difficulties of such a change of allegiance, N.
A number of letters and articles published in the Anglo-Indian Review in the late s and early s reflected the difficulties of persuading many Anglo-Indians to imagine India rather than Britain as home. A very sound idea if the children, grand-children or great grand-children are going back to that country, but not for those who have made India their Home, not for a while, but for ever. Let us abnegate this false presumption before it is too late, serve the Empire undoubtedly, but the Motherland first and serve it as a community.
Indians were always the natives.
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It was a bad thing really, very bad. Though you are Anglo-Indian, you will still think the Anglo part more than the Indian part. So you felt you were more Anglo. There was a tendency in pre-Independence days to consider oneself more the Anglo part of it rather than the Indian part, and many people considered Britain as a kind of home.
We were brought up on the English side. If you had a bit of that Anglo in you, from the point of [view of ] the English language, the English religion, the English education, the mothertongue being English, you got sort of some preferential treatment.