Changing Patterns of Sexuality in Caribbean: Indian diaspora and popular culture

Author:   Kalyani
Publisher:   GRFDT
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Sexuality has always been a subject of hierarchically positioning ones identity by constructing a superior
masculinity vis-à-vis a frail, docile and submissive feminine counterpart. Representation of sexuality
and gender identity within Indian Diaspora was no exception to it. The identity of ‘Jajhaji’ women was
more of a reworking within the Indian identity and Western Creole identity with which they constantly
seem to struggle. However the very fact that women within diasporic culture were wage earners and
that they displayed a sense of solidarity or ‘sisterhood’ by virtue of their fewer number and historical
location (since majority of them were deserted women, practicing prostitutes and Brahmin widows),
understanding gender within Indian Diaspora stands far more complex than understanding it merely
as a ‘dialectics of sex’. Poetry sung by these women thus often became a tool to capture their solitude
and their struggle to construct their own spaces in a far destined and alienated land. Being an indentured
labourer was newer space and experience that they were thrown open to. They did not had any
relationship baggage (given the fact that their social composition explained the periphery of society
they belonged to). This brought about newer dimensions with which they would associate themselves
like motherhood, reworking of myths and even education towards the later half century as modes of
their emancipation. Gender identity among Indian Diaspora also needs to be located within the larger
discourse of wave of feminism in Caribbean as feminism that emerged within these spaces were unique
and quintessentially focused on women’s identity and issues for the reason engagement of feminism
with Diaspora enabled feminism transcend ethnic or racial lines. The aim of my paper would be to
locate the gender dimension among Indian Diaspora within the moment of history and also to understand
its uniqueness in terms of how it influenced the larger discourse of feminism.
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