Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A history of Indo-Guyanese identity: from India to Guyana to Richmond Hill, New York
by Baksh-Riches, Sabrina, M.A., The University of Utah, 2011, 98; 1490900
Abstract (Summary)

For over 170 years, Guyanese Indians have worked to maintain their Indian identity. Appearing in Guyana under the British colonial indenture system, laborers both retained and reformulated elements of “Indianness” within a pan-Indian collective. This thesis will investigate the history of Indo-Guyanese identity from 1838 to 2010 and the historical events that initiated renegotiation of identity. Their physical fragmentation from India initiated the first identity formation, and other events, such as Indian nationalism, Cold War politics in Guyana, interethnic conflict of the 1960s-1980s, the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, and their move into first world ethnic enclaves, played an active role in identity renegotiation.

India remained present in the Indo-Guyanese experience, either through subsequent laborers arriving on the shores of Guyana or Indian nationalist orators and missionaries. Indirect contact included media sources such as Bollywood movies, music, radio programs, and newspapers. As Indo-Guyanese migrated to the United States, they encountered South Asian immigrants in first world enclaves, initiating the next phase of identity. Some academics argue that Guyanese Indians existed within a cultural vacuum; this thesis argues otherwise. Though their initial cultural framework was developed in the nineteenth century, successive contact with India facilitated new ideas and concepts which altered their ideas of “Indianness.” Today, Guyanese Indians have experienced a call into another pan-Indian collective existing in south Richmond Hill, New York.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Davies, Edward J., II
Commitee: Cohen, Benjamin, Rajput, Ashok K.
School: The University of Utah
Department: History
School Location: United States -- Utah
Source: MAI 49/05M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Modern history, Ethnic studies, South Asian Studies
Keywords: Diaspora, Guyana, Immigration, India, Indo-Caribbean culture, Indo-Guyanese
Publication Number: 1490900
ISBN: 978-1-124-57614-5
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