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Literary Criticism General

Mythologies of Migration, Vocabularies of Indenture

Novels of the South Asian Diaspora in Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia-Pacific

by (author) Mariam Pirbhai

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2009
General, African, Emigration & Immigration
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2009
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    Publish Date
    Dec 2009
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South Asian migration during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was largely comprised of indentured labourers sent to British colonies after the 1833 abolition of slavery. Mythologies of Migration, Vocabularies of Indenture uses the critical paradigm of 'indenture history' to examine the local literary and cultural histories that have influenced and shaped the development of novel-length fiction by writers of the South Asian diaspora in national contexts as diverse as Mauritius, South Africa, Guyana, and Fiji.

Mariam Pirbhai perceptively identifies common patterns, developments, and concerns in this cross-continental body of writing, including a 'vocabulary of indenture' that invokes the mythology and plight of the indentured labourer among a newly reconstituted community of colonial émigrés. Pirbhai's innovative study considers authors who fall outside the established canon of post-colonial writing, challenging readers to reconsider traditional peripheries as centres of literary and cultural production that have made significant contributions to the Anglophone novel.

About the author

Mariam Pirbhai was born in Karachi, Pakistan before her family took to the skies, alighting on England and the Philippines before arriving in Canada's terra firma. Here, she has charted her own journey across three provinces, eventually settling in Waterloo, Ontario, where she works as an associate professor in the Department of English and Film Studies, at Wilfrid Laurier University. She is the author of Mythologies of Migration, Vocabularies of Indenture: Novels of the South Asian Diaspora in Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia-Pacific and co-editor of Critical Perspectives on Indo-Caribbean Women's Literature. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies including When Your Voice Tastes Like Home: Immigrant Women Write and Her Mother's Ashes, Volume 3: Stories by South Asian Women in Canada and the United States, as well as in national and international journals such as South Asian Review, jaggerylit: A DesiLit Arts and Literature Journal, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, and Mi>Dalhousie Review. Outside People and Other Stories is her debut collection of short fiction. She lives in Waterloo.

Mariam Pirbhai's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"This excellent and carefully researched study, that has rescued many writers from oblivion and has brought new insights on more established authors, will no doubt encourage more work on these writers and promote fresh debates on the validity of the diaspora label."

Felicity Hand, South Asian Diaspora vol 02:02:10

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