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Settled strangers: why South Asians in diaspora remain outsiders? 
Gijsbert Oonk (Erasmus School of History Culture and Communication)
Start time:
26 July, 2012 at 14:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

When does a Settler Become a Native? After three generations or more? This panel seeks to answer this question within the framework of the Indian diaspora.

Long Abstract

In this panel I propose the concept of 'settled strangers' that may help us to understand the ambivalent relations between 'strangers' and the local society through generations. Settled strangers are descendents of migrants who eventually settled in their new environments for at least three generations. They are often referred to as 'third or fourth or more' generation migrants, despite that they didn't migrate themselves. They (and their parents)are born and raised in the new countries, which they have made their own. Here they enjoyed their education, they know the local language and they most likely will get married locally (but frequently within their own ethnic group). Often, but not always they carry local passports or have obtained local citizenship. Despite of this, their loyalty towards the local society is at stake in the discourses on migration, citizenship. Frequently the suggestion is that 'strangers' are not committed to the local economy or the local politics because settled strangers always have an 'escape'. Nevertheless, if they take up local citizenship or become political active, they are said to do for 'personal gains' and not to 'serve the country'. Even after three or four generations running local business, paying taxes, spending money on charities, hospitals, dispensaries and what not, they find out that it is never enough to be accepted as locally loyal. In his Inaugural Lecture at the University of Cape Town, Mahmood Mamdani rethorical asks: When does a Settler Become a Native? And his shortcut answer is: from the point of view of ethnic citizenship, NEVER.

Accepted papers: