The Mauritian Novel: Fictions of Belonging - Chapter 3 - Belonging Nowhere: Shenaz Patel’s Le Silence des Chagos
University of Reading, GB
Julia Waters is Professor of Contemporary Literature in French at the University of Reading, Great Britain. Her research interests include twentieth-century and contemporary French & Francophone literature; Francophone cultures of the Indian Ocean, especially Mauritius; women’s writing in French, especially Marguerite Duras and Ananda Devi; feminist & postcolonial theory. Her main publications include: The Mauritian Novel: Fictions of Belonging (Liverpool University Press, 2018); Duras and Indochina: Postcolonial Perspectives (SFPS Critical Studies in Postcolonial Literature and Culture, 2006); (ed.), ‘L’ici et l’ailleurs’: Postcolonial Literatures of the Francophone Indian Ocean. E-france: an Online Journal of French Studies, vol 2 (2008); and (with Adalgisa Giorgio, eds), Women's writing in Western Europe: Gender, Generation and Legacy. (Cambridge Scholars, 2007).
This chapter explores how, as depicted in Patel’s 2005 novel, the notion of belonging, in both its politico-legal and its emotional senses, is central to all aspects of the Chagos islanders’ long-silenced story – to their original expulsion; to their on-going legal battles for the right to return; and to their continued exclusion from contemporary Mauritian society. Drawing on Jones’s study of the ambivalent judicial term ‘belonger’, I argue that the Chagossians’ affective sense of belonging to their annexed homeland is also depicted as constituting the grounds for their legal rights as ‘belongers’ not to be deported and hence to be allowed to return. Intricately bound up with the foundation of the Mauritian nation, the Chagossians’ real-life story demonstrates, in the most brutal form possible, the inextricable links between notions of ‘place-belongingness’ and the politics of belonging.
How to Cite:
Waters, J., 2018. The Mauritian Novel: Fictions of Belonging - Chapter 3 - Belonging Nowhere: Shenaz Patel’s Le Silence des Chagos. Modern Languages Open, DOI: http://doi.org/10.3828/mlo.v0i0.259