Mawani, Sharmina and Anjoom Mukadam (eds.). Gujarati Communities across the Globe: Memory, Identity and Continuity.

Author:Motani, Nizar A.
Position:Book review
 
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Mawani, Sharmina and Anjoom Mukadam (eds.). Gujarati Communities Across the Globe: Memory, Identity and Continuity. Stoke-on-Trent, England: Trentham Books, 2012. 204 pp.

This latest addition to the expanding frontier of Gujarati studies offers eleven masterly chapters written by thirteen scholars representing several disciplines.

Raymond Brady Williams, a prolific writer on South Asian, especially Gujarati communities, has a stimulating discussion of changing Gujarati identities in the Foreword. Those studying this phenomenon are "always aiming at a moving target, moving in time and space."(p, x) Moreover, the great diversity, within the Gujarati communities and the probability of continued increase in Gujarati population in the West, "complicates and enlivens research" (p. xii).

Williams collectively commends the authors of this book for capturing Gujaratis "at an important juncture of their influence in India and abroad, and understanding their current local, national and transnational realities".(p. x)

Next, these authors are individually introduced by the editors who also skillfully summarize their contributions.

What is remarkable about these scholarly articles is their readability.

In the opening chapter, Ramnik Shah, commendably demystifies the importance of the nationality factor, in terms of passports, citizenship, and allegiance, among other things, in the spread of the Gujarati emigration out of India, first to East Africa and then to Britain and the West. His analyses are absolutely indispensable to understanding the composition of the Gujarati communities outside the original homeland.

Mohammed Keshavjee innovatively builds on Ramnik Shah's solid groundwork. Kheshavjee interviewed 50 individuals re-settled in a dozen or more countries some 35 years after the fateful August 1972 mass expulsion from Uganda by the infamous Idi Amin.

His findings show that the expellees had successfully reconstituted themselves in different parts of the world, reaching new heights in their professions and vocations" (p. xxiii). Therefore only a negligible number of them have returned to Uganda". This may explain why the Asians Museveni (the Ugandan President) has managed to attract are largely from Gujarat who have never been to Uganda, or any other part of Africa." (p. 23).

Gujarat's Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, visited Uganda in 2008 to solidify ties between the two countries. "The new Gujaratis are making significant contributions to...

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