Callaloo Nation: Metaphors of Race and Religious Identity among South Asians in Trinidad

Duke University Press
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Mixing—whether referred to as mestizaje, callaloo, hybridity, creolization, or multiculturalism—is a foundational cultural trope in Caribbean and Latin American societies. Historically entwined with colonial, anticolonial, and democratic ideologies, ideas about mixing are powerful forces in the ways identities are interpreted and evaluated. As Aisha Khan shows in this ethnography, they reveal the tension that exists between identity as a source of equality and identity as an instrument through which social and cultural hierarchies are reinforced. Focusing on the Indian diaspora in the Caribbean, Khan examines this paradox as it is expressed in key dimensions of Hindu and Muslim cultural history and social relationships in southern Trinidad. In vivid detail, she describes how disempowered communities create livable conditions for themselves while participating in a broader culture that both celebrates and denies difference.

Khan combines ethnographic research she conducted in Trinidad over the course of a decade with extensive archival research to explore how Hindu and Muslim Indo-Trinidadians interpret authority, generational tensions, and the transformations of Indian culture in the Caribbean through metaphors of mixing. She demonstrates how ambivalence about the desirability of a callaloo nation—a multicultural society—is manifest around practices and issues, including rituals, labor, intermarriage, and class mobility. Khan maintains that metaphors of mixing are pervasive and worth paying attention to: the assumptions and concerns they communicate are key to unraveling who Indo-Trinidadians imagine themselves to be and how identities such as race and religion shape and are shaped by the politics of multiculturalism.

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About the author

Aisha Khan is Associate Professor of Anthropology at New York University. She is a coeditor of Women Anthropologists: A Biographical Dictionary.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Oct 11, 2004
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Pages
280
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ISBN
9780822386094
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Since the 1950s, anthropologist Sidney W. Mintz has been at the forefront of efforts to integrate the disciplines of anthropology and history. Author of Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History and other groundbreaking works, he was one of the first scholars to anticipate and critique "globalization studies." However, a strong tradition of epistemologically sophisticated and theoretically informed empiricism of the sort advanced by Mintz has yet to become a cornerstone of contemporary anthropological scholarship. This collection of essays by leading anthropologists and historians serves as an intervention that rests on Mintz's rigorously historicist ethnographic work, which has long predicted the methodological crisis in anthropology today.

Contributors to this volume build on Mintzean interdisciplinarity to provide productive ways to theorize the everyday life of local groups and communities, nation-states, and regions and the interconnections among them. Consisting of theoretical and case studies of Latin America, North America, the Caribbean, and Papua New Guinea, Empirical Futures demonstrates how Mintzean perspectives advance our understanding of the relationship among empirical approaches, the uses of ethnographic and historical data and theory-building, and the study of these from both local and global vantage points.

Contributors:
George Baca, Goucher College
Frederick Cooper, New York University
Virginia R. Dominguez, University of Illinois
Frederick Errington, Trinity College
Deborah Gewertz, Amherst College
Juan Giusti-Cordero, University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras
Aisha Khan, New York University
Samuel Martinez, University of Connecticut
Stephan Palmie, University of Chicago
Jane Schneider, City University of New York Graduate Center
Rebecca J. Scott, University of Michigan



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