The South Asian diaspora in Tanzania: a history retold

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This paper seeks to combine the details from standard accounts with narratives of Asian men and women to provide new insights into the contemporary racial and communal politics of South Asian communities in Tanzania. The author looks at the Asian communities from the time of their settlement to the indigenization debate of 1992-3, and demonstrates how Asians have typically been discussed in the Tanzanian context. The author critiques the popular notion of a homogeneous Asian community and shows how differences along the lines of class, gender, religion, and caste have shaped the Asian experience in crucial ways. This analysis suggests that despite the differences in their social backgrounds and experiences, Asians as a whole have largely remained socially, politically, and spatially isolated from their African neighbors since colonial times. Perhaps this is one of the key reasons behind the myth of Asian homogeneity and the virtual absence of any social alliance or community building across the 'racial' divide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-80
Number of pages19
JournalComparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996


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