Dom Moraes’s Ambivalent Diasporic Sensibility

Author Name

Rima Bhattacharya

Author Address

Ph. D. Research Scholar, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, Kanpur 208016, UP, India, Email: [email protected]


Moraes, ambivalence, trans-cultural, homeless, outsider, alienated, India, British


Born in Bombay in a thoroughly anglicized family, Dom Moraes had always felt alienated from India. The young Moraes who as a child idolised the British poets soon decided to leave India for England like other privileged Western-educated Indians. Although Moraes had spent most of his life in Britain and India, it is problematic to label him either as an ‘Indian’ or a ‘British’ because at one level he is both and at another neither. If in England, he was an inexplicable, ‘brown-skinned’ Indian who was brilliant at his craft, in India he was almost an Englishman, a stranger to the environment and the national language. Therefore in both the cases he was an ‘outsider’. Critics who have studied his work so far have been baffled by his ambivalent attitude towards India, frequently vacillating between a strong sense of dislike and empathy for the nation. Further Moraes’s ambivalence informs the arguments of the critics who are unable to categorize him either as India-hater or a chronicler of Indianness. This paper seeks to explore the sources of such ambivalence in Moraes’s writings and probe how he solves it by donning the image of a trans-cultural tourist who is forever ‘homeless’. Interestingly,  Moraes's texts on India sway between a duality of immersion and elevation and his narrative style blends together autobiographical elements with elements of travelogue.


International Conference on Migration, Diaspora and Development
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