‘Daughters of Gujarat in the Diaspora’ - Narratives of Gujarati Hindu Immigrant Women in Durban

Presented by
Seminar Date
November 18, 2009
Through the narrative genre I examine issues of identity and agency amongst 15 Gujarati Hindu immigrant women who arrived in Natal, South Africa between 1943 to 1953. I examine notions of “home’ and “belonging” and argue that Gujarat, their place of birth is no longer perceived as their “homeland”. However, it plays an important role in constructing their ethnic identity. Secondly, I examine issues of agency and argue that given their personal, economic and social circumstances, Gujarati Hindu women were able to negotiate new roles for themselves within the household. Migration generated new challenges within the traditional household which resulted in some women exercising more agency than others. By examining notions of agency, this paper seeks to dispel the myth of the “passive”, “docile” Indian women, lacking autonomy in their lives. This paper hopes to add to the current theoretical debates on agency and identity in the diaspora.
PDF icon Hiralal2009.pdf209.79 KB