Closing Thoughts

In the afterword, Shalini Puri engages her own contributions to the field of Indo-Caribbean feminist thought to reflect upon the interventions and stakes of the collection. We close with the words that the writer Shivanee Ramlochan shared on Facebook on Indian Arrival Day in 2015, words that resonate deeply with our belief in the necessary flexibility, inclusiveness, intersectionality, relationality, and solidarity of Indo-Caribbean feminist thinking.

Like much of the scholarship from the Indo-Caribbean, the collection is heavily weighted toward perspectives from Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana and their diasporas. While we were unable to secure contributors to discuss the terrain of Suriname, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Barbados, and other sites of the Indian indentureship experience within the Caribbean, we include here work on theorizing being done in Guadeloupe and Martinique as a way of calling attention to smaller Indian communities and the different stakes for operating within a feminist framework as an Indian woman in these sites. We also hope our featuring of comparative work that includes Mauritius makes apparent the unfettered ripples and effects of the epistemological traditions we are tracking here. However, we are aware that there is much more work to be done in the field of Indo- Caribbean feminist thought, not only to bring in geographies left out here but also to include theorizations of how new waves of subcontinental Indians settling in the Caribbean as well as understudied groups such as Indo-Caribbean Muslims may be deploying feminism across their own negotiations and navigations. We want to open rather than foreclose discussions about the multiple meanings of arrival with its particular valences for gendered negotiations among those for whom the rupture from India was generative.

We close with a reminder that our goal and methodology throughout the conceptualizing and compiling of this book collection have been to work collaboratively to track contemporary manifestations of feminist consciousness in creative writing, art, scholarship, activism, and personal life, a tracking that must be as attentive to contradiction, porousness, and relationality as this phenomenon we are calling Indo-Caribbean feminist thought is itself. This collaborative impulse may well be a hallmark of this scholarly tradition as evidenced by Joy Mahabir and Mariam Pirbhai’s (2012) Critical Perspectives on Indo-Caribbean Women’s Literature and Rosanne Kanhai’s two edited collections, Matikor (1999) and Bindi (2011), and by the careers of the foundational scholars in the field. The chapters in this collection highlight a scholarly tradition that emerged at the same time as, and was inextricably intertwined with, the broader Caribbean feminist movement with all of its crossings and collaborations. Though this collection doesn’t include a sustained examination of contemporary Caribbean feminist movements, we see our epistemological contribution as deeply situated within and inspired by wider feminist enactments, engagements, and activism taking place across the contemporary Caribbean and its diaspora. We also note that there are few scholars currently working specifically on gender and social movements among Indo-Caribbeans. We hope the research networks we have been building are a part of mentoring such work toward future publication.

We hope to have traversed indentureship and regional histories for feminist genealogies in schooling as well as scholarship, creative writing as well as personal life. We have questioned the construction of sexualities and challenged their heteronormative, racialized, classed, and transnational disciplinary power, giving space to documenting such challenges in art and religion as well as in online community building. We have recognized the constitutive role of violence and continued an Indo-Caribbean feminist tradition of theorizing violence which is centered in the role of scholarship in supporting social change. Significantly, we have also continued a history of claiming Indianness on terms that challenge discourses of purity and instead prioritize ones of solidarity and women’s empowerment. Finally, given the lacunae in scholarly understanding of masculinities, we hope we have contributed to furthering feminist attention to Indo-Caribbean masculinities, across language and geography. Our collaborative work continues with greater focus in the future on transoceanic theorizing of feminisms that emerge out of the complexities of indentureship experiences.

Recognizing that no collection can include everything, we ask that you approach this project with a spirit of generosity and openness. We are not interested in being the gatekeepers for this examination of Indo-Caribbean feminist thought but in exploring this terrain together with those for whom this topic holds meaning. Our ambition in this collection has therefore been to make the most useful interventions for strengthening a diasporic research community for the study of Indo-Caribbean gender navigations and feminisms, and to mentor new collaborative feminist scholarship on the Caribbean both now and for the scholars who will come after us.

 
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