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Children of Colonialism

by Lionel Caplan

Among the legacies of the colonial encounter are any number of contemporary 'mixed-race' populations, descendants of the offspring of sexual unions involving European men (colonial officials, traders, etc.) and local women. These groups invite serious scholarly attention because they not only challenge notions of a rigid divide between colonizer and colonized, but beg a host of questions about continuities and transformations in the postcolonial world. This book concerns one such group, the Eurasians of India, or Anglo-Indians as they came to be designated. Caplan presents an historicized ethnography of their contemporary lives as these relate both to the colonial past and to conditions in the present. In particular, he forcefully shows that features which theorists associate with the postcolonial present -- blurred boundaries, multiple identities, creolized cultures -- have been part of the colonial past as well. Presenting a powerful argument against theoretically essentialized notions of culture, hybridity and postcoloniality, this book is a much-needed contribution to recent debates in cultural studies, literary theory, anthropology, sociology as well as historical studies of colonialism, 'mixed-race' populations and cosmopolitan identities.