University of Iowa

Spring 2008 Events


Framing Dougla Identity in Caribbean Literature: Truncated Roots, Racialized Paradigms of Subjectivity, Historical Liminalities


Date: Friday, May 2
Time: 4:00 -5:30 pm
Location: 315 PH
Presenter: Brinda J. Mehta, Professor of French and Francophone Studies Mills College


The question of dougla or mixed-race Indian/African identity remains relatively invisible in mainstream French Caribbean discourses on gender, race, ethnicity, and cultural affiliations in Martinique and Guadeloupe. The absence of such a theoretical framework has consequently marginalized the presence of biological douglas who are omitted from discussions of Antillean identity either as échappé coolie in Martinique or bata coolie in Guadeloupe. This omission has impeded a truly prismatic reading of Francophone Caribbean-ness through the lack of cultural and theoretical 'intimacy' between the shared experiences of Indians and Africans in terms of labor exploitation, and the specific historical conditions of Indian indenture and African slavery. This lecture will examine the following questions ­ How do Francophone women writers represent dougla difference in the absence of literary, political, and cultural points of reference? What is the link between psychological exile and truncated roots as symptoms of cultural negation and the internalization of racialized paradigms of subjectivity? How do Douglas represent the fractured history of the French Caribbean with its gaps, erasures and historical liminalities.


Professor Brinda J.Mehta is the author of Rituals of Memory in Contemporary Arab Women's Writing (Syracuse University Press, 2007), Diasporic
Dis(locations): Indo-Caribbean Women Writers Negotiate the ŒKala Pani¹ (University Pres of the West Indies, 2004), and Corps infirme, corps infâme : la femme dans le roman balzacien (Summa Publications, 1992).


This event is co-sponsored by the International Programs, the Department of English, the Department of History, and The Middle East Muslim World Studies Group.


Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Merry Bullock in the offices of the Department of French and Italian, 111 Phillips Hall, at 335-2253.