From Slavery to Indentured Labour: a Franco-Mauritian perspective on the displacement of Indian emigrants
Postcolonial literature often refers to writings that deal with challenges faced by the inhabitants of colonies following the decolonization era or the political and cultural freedom of people formerly oppressed by colonial power. The end of colonization was not only made possible by politicians and freedom fighters, writers also had a significant role in bringing out a Postcolonial literature in the mid-twentieth century. Most of the postcolonial texts were published between the 1950s and 1990s. Postcolonial literature saw the emergence of drama and poetry as a tool for writers to express their hopes and grieves, however it's really the novel that molded this movement. Mauritius, a space which is not usually perceived as postcolonial, had a dual colonial identity, having been under the control of the French and the English. In this island nation, there are literary works written in numerous languages. The most conspicuous languages are French, English, Hindi, Kreol and Bhojpuri. Since the 1990s, Mauritian literature in French has erupted with vigor, thanks to the works of many island writers. The literary production of Mauritius is essentially in French, and some of the internationally recognized French authors today are Indo-Mauritian.This communication reflects on the postcolonial facettes of a French novel written by Nathacha Appanah, a contemporary Indo-Mauritian writer, who has contributed immensely to the francophone literature of Mauritius, through her vibrant representations of the island, which plays a key role in shaping and influencing her characters, and by her versatile style of writing, which has evolved throughout her novels.In her first novel, Les Rochers de Poudre d'Or, Mauritius is set in a very precise historical context: it's the post-slavery period. The novel traces the journey of Indian emigrants who came to work as contract workers in the sugar cane plantations of Mauritiustowards the end of the 19th century. In the first part of this presentation, we will study the circumstances of the arrival of Indian immigrants by exploring the historical backdrop of the island, and then secondly, we will examine how it portrays the indentured labor system as a concealed form of slavery.
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