Reena Dobson – 25 September, 5.30 PM, Room 4.02, Level 4, Building 3

Towards Mauritianité: Negotiating the Ethnic and the National in Mauritius

Mauritius is an island in the Indian Ocean populated entirely by people from elsewhere.  A history of settlement due to colonisation, slavery, indentured labour and trade has resulted in an intensely multi-ethnic population that can and prefers to divide itself into Creole (Afro-)Mauritians, Franco-Mauritians, Indo-Mauritians, and  Sino-Mauritians.  Mauritius is thus an intensely multi-ethnic island, where ethnicity and ethnic concerns often saturate people’s everyday lives. Significantly however, the marked lack of overt ethnic violence illustrates its relative success in containing its ethnic and cultural diversity.  This paper looks at the place of the national in the face of Mauritius’ intense multi-ethnicity. In particular, this paper focuses on the complex negotiations, the messiness and ‘patchiness’ that can be seen as characterising the complex interplays between the ethnic and the national in Mauritius – a process I am calling ‘Mauritianité’.

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