Friday, September 24, 2010

More about Wiles, from Animesh Rai

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Following our publishing of the entry in Tamil of the Pondicherrian diary, and the mention of William Miles work, below is a passage from Animesh Rai's classic study. The question of identify within multiple cultures is a riveting subject. In our contemporary world which has been crisscrossed by mass emigration on all its continents, many human beings, possibly the majority, identify with more than one culture. African Americans in the US, Arabs in France, Caucasians in South Africa, Turks in Germany, the list is endless. We welcome comments and contributions from all, and in particular from ... Pondicherrians!

"William Miles, in his book, Imperial Burdens, has spoken about the notions of “legitimacy and psychology” with reference to the Franco-Pondicherrians in Pondicherry.[1] He argues that they lack political legitimacy and that they are economically and psychologically dependent on France due to the severance of their links with India. Even though they are financially well off due to their pensions which they receive in European currency, the French state in reality is very reluctant to continue paying them these pensions. He also points out that they lack a proper homeland. While they are juridically a part of France, they do not belong culturally there and it is the reverse situation for them inIndia. My own assessment of the situation on the ground led me to conclude that present day Pondicherry lacks a certain sense of legitimacy. Ironically, for me, this lack of legitimacy came from the departure of the Franco-Pondicherrians and I can only repeat the phrase, “Les Pondichériens sont tous partis” (which translates as“Pondicherrians have all left”) which I heard from some people during my field trips there. There is certainly a sense of legitimacy which comes from being legally part of India. In that sense, the present day Pondicherrians are legitimate. But so rampant is the perception that Pondicherry is now constituted of migrants from other parts of Tamil Nadu as well as from other parts of India that I viewed these people as being, in a sense, the false proprietors of Pondicherry. "

[1] William Miles, Imperial Burdens, p. 172.

From: "The Legacy of French Rule in India (1674-1954): an Investigation of a Process of Creolization."
Animesh Rai, IFP - Publications Hors série n° 8, French Institute of Pondicherry / Henri Peyre French Institute of CUNY, 2008, viii, 251 p. Language: English. Rs 500 (18 €) ISBN: 978-81-8470-167-8.

For orders/enquiries, contact: 
French Institute of Pondicherry
11, St. Louis Street, P.B. 33, Pondicherry-605 001, INDIA
Phone: (91)-413-2334168. Fax:(91)-413-2339534

Published by  - -  Arabella Hutter

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