Performing Memories and Weaving Archives:

Performing Memories and Weaving Archives:

Creolized Cultures across the Indian Ocean

By Sayan Dey

This book engages with how the South African Indians in South Africa and Siddis in Gujarat perform creolized musical, spiritual, and culinary practices in their respective geopolitical spaces in the contemporary era.

EPUB, 114 Pages


December 2023

£19.99, $23.80

PDF, 114 Pages


December 2023

£19.99, $23.80

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About This Book

Usually, discourses on the planetary evolution and the movements of slaves remain restricted within the narratives and scholarships of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and hardly engage with the evolution, movements, and shifts about the Indian Ocean World (IOW) slave trade. But multiple published, unpublished, authored, and non-authored historical documents like the historical records of Greco-Egyptian monk Cosmos Indicopleustes (sixthcentury BC), the Periplus of the Erythrean Sea (firstcentury CE), the travelogues of Ibn Battuta (fourteenthcentury), historical records of Tome Pires (sixteenthcentury), accounts of British historians William Hawkins and Sir Thomas Roe (seventeenthcentury), accounts of French historian Abbe Carre (seventeenthcentury), accounts of French Lieutenant de Grandpre (nineteenthcentury), and many more mention about the trade relations between India and different parts for Africa. The items of trade involved exotic stones, exotic spices, domestic objects, and local people.

Despite the existence of these diverse archival documents on the IOW trade activities, any discourses on the IOW continue to remain an understatement. The narratives on the IOW, to a vast extent, have been shaped by Western/colonial historians, who have imaginatively constructed the IOW within separate geographical, cultural, epistemological, and ontological enclaves. Based on these socio-historical arguments, this book unearths how Siddis in Gujarat and the South African Indians in South Africa preserve their ancestral memories through spiritual, culinary, and musical practices on the one side, and generate creolized socio-cultural spaces of collective decolonial resistance and well-being on the other.


More than just its thorough analytical framework of the ‘lived’ spatialization of the diasporic communities, what distinguishes Dey’s book Performing Memories and Weaving Archives: Creolized Cultures across the Indian Ocean as a unique work of research is its particular categorization for highlighting the exchange of cultural memory and identificatory practices between two glorious nations. In addition to sharing a profoundly personal account of feeling uprooted, the author has done a thorough historical investigation of the exchange of cultures between South Africa and India. - Journal of Asian and African Studies

Performing Memories, Weaving Archives is a tour de force exemplar of transdisciplinary scholarship. Sayan Dey painstakingly challenges reductionism through revealing the complex story of African Indians in India and Indian Africans in Africa alongside the many erasures Euromodern colonial practices and rationalizations imposed upon both. From the opening examination of the power of being greeted by strangers in one’s own language and the generous act of learning involved in linguistic and other cultural practices of reciprocity, the power of communicative practices, and their creolizing effect—all cultural encounters flow, after all, in many directions and in many ways—Dey offers a provocative methodological framework, through demonstration, in which spiritual memory, music and dance, the joys of culinary memory—in a word, life—and the ever-crucial resistance of reclaimed and transformed humanity come to the fore with breathtaking clarity. Every page is a proverbial gem. Lewis R. Gordon, Professor, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor and Global Affairs, University of Connecticut, United States and author of Freedom, Justice and Decolonization and Fear of Black Consciousness

The book pushes us with delight and dexterity into the world of moving cultures and cultures in motion, where being in cultures is being creolized. Dey is a buoyant, moving citizen as he 'senses' experiences across borders, seas, communities, territories, food, music, and the rest, making for an inviting weave. Ranjan Ghosh, author of The Plastic Turn & Thinking Literature Across Continents (with J Hiller Miller)

Dr. Dey welcomes us on a journey of diasporic meanderings as he travels through time, space, geographies, cultural encounters, and hidden histories to explore. Dey also explores how and why invisibilizations are a part of yesterday’s colonial Master narrative and today’s post-colonial enterprise, both rooted in global anti-Blackness. Dr. Irma McClaurin, Anthropologist and Founder of Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive, United States

Weaving together rich literary and historical sources, Dey builds a compelling argument on the performative power of greetings by exploring transoceanic interconnections and its resultant creolization between India and South Africa through a multi-sited lens of indigenous memories and spirituality. Dr. Papia Sengupta, Faculty, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India

A timely intervention, Performing Memories and Weaving Archives brings the suppressed and marginalized Creole communities back to the center stage of history. Sayan Dey calls attention to our biases and discriminations and argues for a wider recognition of the border crossing groups. Mediating through rituals, music, language, and food practices, the book successfully demonstrates that Creole is actually the norm rather than exception. A great contribution to reshape our understanding of historical cultural practices. Dr. Kuan-Hsing Chen, author of Asia as method: Towards de-imperialization

Performing Memories and Weaving Archives is an enchanting and informative medley of voices at once, primal, and quite contemporary. It evokes transoceanic ties, between India and South Africa, especially in music, food, and the sacred. These are stories of transcendence in everyday immanence, showing the triumphant spirit of Ubuntu against the imposition of historical fences. Dr. Devarakshanam Govinden, Academic, Poet, and Historian, South Africa

Weaving complex questions about social relations between people in South Africa and India, Sayan Dey provides a provocation to readers: Who are you? Who am I? How are we related? A must read for understanding race, power and nation in contemporary times. Dr. Melanie Bush, Professor of Sociology, Adelphi University, United States

Deploying decolonial perspective as both an overarching conceptual framework and a methodology mixing it with creolization as an analytical unit, Sayan Dey`s Performing Memories and Weaving Archives enlightens us than never before on the lives and histories of African Indians in India and Indian Africans in South Africa. Dey opens the analytical canvas wide to cover spiritualities, culinary traditions, music and politics. The shelf life and indeed virtual life of this book on the burgeoning Indian Ocean Studies is secured and guaranteed. Dr. Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni is Chair of Epistemologies of the Global South and Vice-Dean of Research in the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence, University of Bayreuth, Germany

Sayan Dey’s study of inter-religiosities and oceanic human landscapes unearths a tacitly shared history between South Asia and South and East Africa in research uniquely placed at the grassroots level of Afro-Indian and Indo-African subalternities. Exploring their cultural expressions and religious practices, fresh insights on community resilience and adaptation to displacement and migration unfold. Dey compellingly explores the notions of creolization and oceanic cultures as pathways to decolonizing knowledge on (post)colonized communities, mirroring each other in their amalgamation of migration and indigeneity. This is commendable research of global South-South exchange, unconcerned with global northern hegemonies and epistemologies. Dey engages the reader in the complex and rich realities of subaltern communities and their resistance to casteism and racism, concluding with a call to rewind the erasure of their histories from both Indian and South African national memory and heritage. Dr. Ophira Gamliel, Lecturer, Theology and Religious Studies, University of Glasgow, Scotland

In this riveting cultural history, Sayan Dey’s explorations of religion, music, dance, and culinary crossings between Africa and India offers much food for thought. A unique investigation of how African and Indian cultures have informed each other over many centuries, Performing Memories and Weaving Archives offers a decolonial contribution to many fields, from food studies to musicology to religious studies. Extensively researched and thoughtfully written, this book will command the attention of global historians, Indian Ocean historians, and all those interested in the detailed linkages between Africa and India in the past and continuing into the present. Dr. Neilesh Bose, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair, Department of History, University of Victoria, Canada

Author Information

Sayan Dey is from Kolkata, India, and is currently working as as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Language and Literature, School of Liberal Arts, Alliance University, Bangalore. His areas of research interests are postcolonial studies, decolonial studies, critical race studies, food humanities, and critical diversity literacy.


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Table of Contents

Foreword; Preface; Acknowledgments; 1.Introduction: Nomoshkar- Sanibona- Vanakkam- Molweni- Hujambo; 2.Porosity: Reservations and Fluidities; 3.Spiritual Memories; 4.Musical and Dance Memories; 5.Culinary Memories; 6.Continuity: Weaving Archipelagoes of Resistance; Afterword; Index       


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