Re-locating memories: transnational and local narratives of Indian South Africans in Cape Town

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Abstract:

This article plays on the word re-location to examine the memories of Indians in South Africa through oral histories about relocation as a result of the Group Areas Act, to memories of parents and grandparents relocating to South Africa from India as told to interviewees and to their own memories of journeys to India and back. The narratives of mobilities traverse time and national boundaries and are counter-posed by narratives of local mobilities as well as stasis. The article identifies ways of narrating, themes of narration and the meaning of memories while noting the re-location of memory construction against the backdrop of South Africa’s democratic transition and the 150th commemoration of the arrival of indentured Indians to South Africa. It argues that the local and the national are important in narrations of transnational journeys, thus advancing a particular approach to transnational memory studies.