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The Political Consecration of Community in Mauritius, 1948-1968.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date1/06/2007
JournalJournal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
Journal number2
Volume35
Number of pages24
Pages239-262
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The paper is concerned with the problem, amelioration and contestation of a 'majority community' in a decolonising political culture. The late-colonial administration in Mauritius employed repeated and increasingly elaborate constitutional innovation to counter-balance the perceived inability of Mauritians to distinguish between political preference and community affiliation. These measures raised the constitutional profile of the 'community', ostensibly in order to offset it politically. The colonial state's determination to derive community definitions from census data was soon frustrated by the calculated identification and sensitisation of corporate identities by political entrepreneurs. The definition and defence of community became a compelling preoccupation of post-war political campaigns on the island. However, this communalism - misunderstood and condemned by Imperial social science as apolitical or even antithetical to politics - concealed a political culture of considerable flexibility and pragmatism. At no point did the colonial administration address the fact that the locus for the generation of communalised political propaganda lay in a political rivalry for leadership of one community - that of the Hindu Indo-Mauritians.

Bibliographic note

RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : History