Africa in the Indian Imagination

Race and the Politics of Postcolonial Citation

Africa in the Indian Imagination

Book Pages: 200 Illustrations: Published: April 2016

Author: Antoinette Burton

Contributor: Isabel Hofmeyr

African Studies, Asian Studies > South Asia, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

In Africa in the Indian Imagination Antoinette Burton reframes our understanding of the postcolonial Afro-Asian solidarity that emerged from the 1955 Bandung conference. Afro-Asian solidarity is best understood, Burton contends, by using friction as a lens to expose the racial, class, gender, sexuality, caste, and political tensions throughout the postcolonial global South. Focusing on India's imagined relationship with Africa, Burton historicizes Africa's role in the emergence of a coherent postcolonial Indian identity. She shows how—despite Bandung's rhetoric of equality and brotherhood—Indian identity echoed colonial racial hierarchies in its subordination of Africans and blackness. Underscoring Indian anxiety over Africa and challenging the narratives and dearly held assumptions that presume a sentimentalized, nostalgic, and fraternal history of Afro-Asian solidarity, Burton demonstrates the continued need for anti-heroic, vexed, and fractious postcolonial critique. 


"A highly stimulating study of the (dis)continuities of colonial discourses of race and gender into the framework of transnational solidarity inspired by the Bandung spirit. . . . Burton’s book offers a major contribution to our understanding of how India imagined Africa (and, consequently, itself as an independent nation state) and raises the important challenge of re-thinking and complicating the postcolonial histories of Afro-Asian connections." — Luca Raimondi, African Studies Quarterly

"[Burton's] work implores scholars to locate new archives and tell more nuanced interpretations of the global south. She also encourages readers to reconsider the signi?cance of race and gender in challenging and at times undermining the rhetorical and material projects developed under the banner of Afro-Asianism. Burton’s work will certainly stimulate a robust and welcome debate." — Michele Louro, Canadian Journal of History

"The book makes powerful theoretical contributions by desegregating Indian and African histories across the postcolonial Indian Ocean region, infusing their study with feminist historical methods, and writing race into geopolitics." — Ned Bertz, Journal of African History

"Burton’s analysis provides us with much food for thought for lessons that can be learnt the from Bandung ‘moment’, in both its success and its failures." — Parvathi Raman, Journal of Southern African Studies

"Ambitious and theoretically rigorous. . . . Burton engages with an impressive range of scholarship as she complicates our understanding of Indian-African interactions and raises larger issues dealing with the legacy of imperialism and the development of the postcolonial state." — Timothy Nicholson, Ufahamu

“Antoinette Burton is a master historian, who has proven her skill and craft time and again. In this volume, she presents four individual essays with thoughtful nuance, highlighting the presence of complex relationships of race, gender, and politics between different groups of disenfranchised people.” — Jyoti Mohan, H-Empire, H-Net Reviews

“Antoinette Burton convincingly tells us how the authors in the twentieth-century postcolonial Indian and African intellectual realms imagined themselves as harbingers of new forms of change and created an assertion of racial bias through more advanced forms of technological, educational, and cultural exchanges.” — Mahmood Kooria, New Books Asia

Africa in the Indian Imagination is valuable for contemporary scholarship. Pertinent for those who consider contemporary affairs, even when through disciplinary approaches other than history and comparative literature.” — Silvia Tieri, Journal of Contemporary Asia

"In Africa in the Indian Imagination imperial historian Antoinette Burton turns her acute moral and analytical attentions to how twentieth-century Indian nationalists used Africa and Africans as reference points for imagining an independent identity. Africa in the Indian Imagination consolidates and extends Burton’s fine skills as postcolonial diagnostician and adds important conceptual devices to the toolbox of geopolitical historiography, not least 'solidarity through friction,' 'tense and tender relations,' and 'postcolonial citation' itself. Powerfully acting on its own injunction to provincialize empire by crossing postcolonial with feminist critique, Burton’s bold and important study redraws the map of inter-cultural relations and trans-nationalist collaboration in the twentieth century." — Elleke Boehmer, Professor of World Literature in English, University of Oxford

"Reflecting Antoinette Burton's fearlessness, scholarly dexterity, and shining brilliance, Africa in the Indian Imagination is an impressive achievement. Burton raises important questions on how to approach historical evidence in the writing of imperial histories, while providing a rich, nuanced, and deep account of the tense relations between Indians and Africans as they emerged from colonial relations. A vital book." — Renisa Mawani, author of Colonial Proximities: Crossracial Encounters and Juridical Truths in British Columbia, 1871–1921


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Antoinette Burton is Professor of History and Catherine C. and Bruce A. Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She has written and edited many books, including Ten Books That Shaped the British Empire: Creating an Imperial Commons, Postcolonial Studies and Beyond, and A Primer for Teaching World History: Ten Design Principles, all also published by Duke University Press.

Isabel Hofmeyr is Professor of African Literature at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and the author of Gandhi's Printing Press: Experiments in Slow Reading.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Foreword / Isabel Hofmeyr  viii

Acknowledgments  xiii

Introduction. Citing/Siting Africa in the Indian Postcolonial Imagination  1

1. "Every Secret Thing"? Racial Politics in Ansuyah R. Singh's Behold the Earth Mourns (1960)  27

2. Race and the Politics of Position: Above and Below in Frank Moraes' The Importance of Being Black (1965)  57

3. Fictions of Postcolonial Development: Race, Intimacy and Afro-Asian Solidarity in Chanakya Sen's The Morning After (1973)  89

4. Hands and Feed: Phyllis Naidoo's Impressions of Anti-apartheid History (2002-2006)  123

Epilogue  167

Index 173
Sales/Territorial Rights: World exc South Asia

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6167-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6148-0
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