May 20, 2015

Bead Bai: Gendered Identity at the Interstices of Art, Trade and Domesticity: A Socio-literary Analysis of Sultan Somjee’s Bead Bai

"Unlike in the case of migrations from the Indian subcontinent to South Africa and Mauritius, women arrived in East Africa mainly as 'adjunct' wives of male migrants. There are very few official documents to record their arrival, and the mention of personal details of these women and their fascinating experiences remain excluded from the footnotes of history. One therefore has to fall back on alternate sources to reconstruct the subaltern experiences of these women migrants, whose life-narratives have been subsumed within the larger collective history of their husbands or fathers. It is here that creative reconstructions can be used as an important tangential source to capture the finer nuances of gendered individual and collective mobility. This in turn allows for a deeper insight into processes of the formation of diasporic gendered subjectivities in the context of the East African Asian diaspora."

Prof Mala Pandurang