Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationIllinois, Chicago, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9311
Approve DateApril 21, 2016
Project TitleReddy, Dr. Gayatri, U. of Illinois, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Karma of Black Folk in India: Siddis and Meanings of Race and Masculinity in Hyderabad'
Preliminary abstract: This project explores contemporary meanings of blackness, masculinity, race, and belonging in India, through the lens of the so-called ‘African’ or Siddi community in contemporary Hyderabad. Pre-colonial and colonial Siddi migration to Hyderabad – of black slave-soldiers from East Africa – has been well known in medieval and modern Indian historiography. And yet, the narratives of these migrants have been largely erased from general histories and postcolonial accounts of race in India as well as accounts of slavery and the global ‘African’ diaspora. Drawing on data gathered over eight months of archival and ethnographic research among third and fourth-generation descendants of soldiers in the African Cavalry Guards, an all-Siddi unit of the Hyderabadi army, this project unpacks these processes of marginalization, exploring the ways in which constructions of race, gender, and history animate narratives of Siddi belonging as well as on-going prejudice against Siddis and contemporary African migrants in India. It unearths the contemporary ways in which blackness and masculinity are constituted as intersecting social and political categories caught in the dialectics of alienation and intimacy, belonging and otherness, with enduring effects on the lives and cosmologies of the long-standing ‘African’ communities, and on the contemporary politics of race, nation, and religion in India. In exploring these issues, my project historicizes meanings of blackness and race and attendant practices of incorporation/discrimination in India, and informs larger debates about the politics of religious nationalism, the racialization of masculinity, and the globalization of race, while refracting narratives of slavery and the global ‘African’ diaspora.