Rochelle Almeida

New York University

Biography

The ports of Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Cochin and Karachi saw an enormous amount of human traffic as steamer-loads of young, ambitious, optimistic and cheerful Eurasians (Anglo-Indians) left India for greener pastures soon after Indian¬†Independence in 1947. While not much is known about their sea-faring lives as potential immigrants to Britain, I had the unique opportunity of conducting ethnographic research in the UK among elderly members of the Anglo-Indian community that had left India while still youthful and ambitious. My research has led to the discovery of little-known facts about their trajectory from exit to integration with particular emphasis on the environment prevailing at South Asian port cities in the lead-up to Independence and in its immediate aftermath. Individual interviews as well as group-surveys unearthed substantial data about financial means employed to purchase sea passages to Britain, preparation undertaken to transfer belongings overseas, and challenges faced in working with severe Indian foreign exchange control regulations.¬†¬†Furthermore, my research had produced information about the development of a shipboard lifestyle and culture unique to the community‚ÄĒa result of their Westernized customs and traditions‚ÄĒas well as their forays into port cities such as Mombasa and Aden en route to the UK.¬†

Through this presentation, I will provide data gleaned from a vast number of immigrants that throws light on the manner in which Eurasians surmounted financial and bureaucratic obstacles on their journey from Indian port cities to disembarkation at Tilbury or Southampton in the UK. I will also comment on the extraordinary bi-lateral partnerships that existed between European shipping company officials and their South Asian counterparts that facilitated mass-migration of Eurasians and the creation of a mixed-race diasporic South Asian community in Britain. Finally, in an attempt to make this paper interdisciplinary, I shall compare real-life accounts of Eurasian passengers with those of literary ones‚ÄĒsuch as the port and shipboard experiences delineated by Michael Ondatje‚Äôs autobiographical account of his own voyage from Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) to England in 1954 in his book¬†The Cat‚Äôs Table(2011). ¬† ¬† ¬†

„ÄĆ Westward Ho! Eurasian (Anglo-Indian) immigrants, sea ports, steamers, and passenger culture in mid-twentieth century India „Äć

The ports of Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Cochin and Karachi saw an enormous amount of human traffic as steamer-loads of young, ambitious, optimistic and cheerful Eurasians (Anglo-Indians) left India for greener pastures soon after Indian¬†Independence in 1947. While not much is known about their sea-faring lives as potential immigrants to Britain, I had the unique opportunity of conducting ethnographic research in the UK among elderly members of the Anglo-Indian community that had left India while still youthful and ambitious. My research has led to the discovery of little-known facts about their trajectory from exit to integration with particular emphasis on the environment prevailing at South Asian port cities in the lead-up to Independence and in its immediate aftermath. Individual interviews as well as group-surveys unearthed substantial data about financial means employed to purchase sea passages to Britain, preparation undertaken to transfer belongings overseas, and challenges faced in working with severe Indian foreign exchange control regulations.¬†¬†Furthermore, my research had produced information about the development of a shipboard lifestyle and culture unique to the community‚ÄĒa result of their Westernized customs and traditions‚ÄĒas well as their forays into port cities such as Mombasa and Aden en route to the UK.¬†

Through this presentation, I will provide data gleaned from a vast number of immigrants that throws light on the manner in which Eurasians surmounted financial and bureaucratic obstacles on their journey from Indian port cities to disembarkation at Tilbury or Southampton in the UK. I will also comment on the extraordinary bi-lateral partnerships that existed between European shipping company officials and their South Asian counterparts that facilitated mass-migration of Eurasians and the creation of a mixed-race diasporic South Asian community in Britain. Finally, in an attempt to make this paper interdisciplinary, I shall compare real-life accounts of Eurasian passengers with those of literary ones‚ÄĒsuch as the port and shipboard experiences delineated by Michael Ondatje‚Äôs autobiographical account of his own voyage from Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) to England in 1954 in his book¬†The Cat‚Äôs Table(2011). ¬† ¬† ¬†

CONTACT US

Email: cga@nyu.edu

Phone Number: +86 (21) 20595032

WeChat: NYUShanghaiCGA

Address: 1555 Century Avenue,

Pudong New Area, Shanghai, China.

© 2018 All Rights Reserved

© 2018 All Rights Reserved

            CONTACT US

      Email: cga@nyu.edu

      Phone Number: +86 (21) 20595032

      WeChat: NYUShanghaiCGA

      Address: 1555 Century Avenue,

      Pudong New Area, Shanghai, China.