Le trauma de l’esclavage à l’engagisme: une réécriture des géographies du corps humain et de l’espace
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation examines the notion of nationhood and the intricacies of identity in Mauritius as depicted in the work of artists from this island. Through the writing of Ananda Devi, Shenaz Patel, Natacha Appanah, Amal Sewtohul, and Carl de Souza, as well as through the works of filmmakers Harikrisna Anenden and David Constantin, I analyze the distinctive ways in which these artists explore the burden of a traumatic past along with their ensuing representations of the present images of the Mauritian people. Their works best encapsulate the paradoxical place that Mauritius holds in the Francophone and Anglophone world, i.e. that it was first a French and then a British colony, which respectively introduced slavery and indentured servants to this island that had no autochthone population. As a result, the question of identity – both individual and national – remains intrinsically linked to the memory of slavery and of indentured servitude/Coolitude, in a country which history prior to colonization has little been explored. Thus far, critical work in Francophone literature has studied these two memories separately. My analysis creates a dialogue between them. This is crucial to the understanding of just how the intersection of slavery and Coolitude, have shaped today’s Mauritian national identity. Each chapter raises a key question on the subject: How does the writing of Devi, along with Anenden’s cinema, both of which are centered on marginalized communities, present a critical framework through which the socio-economic issues of the island can be studied? In what ways does Appanah’s fiction convoke historical events, while problematizing deeply engrained power dynamics? What does it mean for Patel and Constantin to give voice to the subaltern and to speak for/instead of a minority group? Finally, how do the works of these different writers, namely Patel, Appanah, Sewtohul and de Souza, address the complexities and tensions within the multicultural society of Mauritius? My conclusion reflects on the critical role and impact of artistic expression in the creation of a mosaic in which we can better understand the Mauritian nation when this country is at the milestone of 50 years of independence.