Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-6c8bd87754-clkrv Total loading time: 0.339 Render date: 2022-01-17T01:25:52.047Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Register levels of ethno-national purity: The ethnicization of language and community in Mauritius

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 February 2004

PATRICK EISENLOHR
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, Washington University, Campus Box 1114, Saint Louis, MO 63130-4899, USA, peisenlo@artsci.wustl.edu

Abstract

Language is involved in processes of group identification in that it provides a focus for explicit discourses of identity and constitutes a field of less overt practices for creating groupness. Drawing on examples from Mauritian television broadcasting, this study traces the ethnicization of Mauritian Bhojpuri as a “Hindu language” through the hierarchization and subsuming of linguistic practices under larger language labels with ethno-national significance. Purist forms of Mauritian Bhojpuri that are locally perceived as “intermediate” registers between Hindi and Bhojpuri are used to represent Hindi as a language spoken in Mauritius, and at the same time to link Mauritian Bhojpuri ideologically to Hindu identity. This blurring of language boundaries serves a Hindu nationalist agenda in a diasporic location by establishing new links between linguistic forms and ethno-national values.Fieldwork in Mauritius was carried out in 1996 and 1997–1998 and was supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the University of Chicago Council for Advanced Studies in Peace and International Cooperation (CASPIC). I would like to extend my sincere thanks to these institutions. Research in Mauritius was also facilitated by the University of Mauritius, where I would especially like to thank Vinesh Hookoomsing. Earlier versions of this article were presented at the Second University of Chicago/University of Michigan (“Michicagoan”) Graduate Student Conference in Linguistic Anthropology and at the Working Group for Urban Sociolinguistics at New York University. My thanks go to the organizers and participants of these events, from whose comments I greatly benefited. I am also indebted to Lou Brown, Sara Friedman, Susan Gal, Vinesh Hookoomsing, Judith Irvine, Michael Silverstein, and two anonymous reviewers for Language in Society for their careful readings and helpful suggestions at different stages in the writing of this article. Of course, any mistakes are my own. Most of all, I am indebted to the many Mauritians without whose help and friendship my research would have been impossible.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2004 Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Anderson, Benedict (1991). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London: Verso.
Baker, Philip, & Ramnah, Amarnath (1985). Mauritian Bhojpuri: An Indo-Aryan language spoken in a predominantly creolophone society. Papers in pidgin and creole linguistics No. 4 / Pacific Linguistics A-72:215–38.
Baker, Philip, & Ramnah, P. (1988). Recognizing Mauritian Bhojpuri. In Barz & Siegel, 4168.
Barz, Richard K. (1980). The cultural significance of Hindi in Mauritius. South Asia n.s. 3:113.Google Scholar
Barz, Richard K., & Siegel, Jeff (eds.) (1988). Language transplanted. The development of overseas Hindi. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
Blommaert, Jan (ed.) (1999). Language ideological debates. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.CrossRef
Blommaert, Jan, & Verschueren, J. (1998). The role of language in European nationalist ideologies. In Schieffelin et al., 189210.
Boas, Franz (1995 [1911]). Introduction to the Handbook of American Indian languages. In Ben G. Blount (ed.), Language, culture and society. Prospect Heights: Waveland.
Bowman, Larry W. (1991). Mauritius: Democracy and development in the Indian Ocean. Boulder & San Francisco: Westview.
Brass, Paul R. (1974). Language and politics in North India. London & New York: Cambridge University Press.
Briggs, Charles, & Bauman, Richard (1992). Genre, intertextuality and social power. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 2:13172.Google Scholar
Buckory, Somdath (1988 [1967]). Hindi in Mauritius. Rose-Hill: Editions de l'Océan Indien.
Carter, Marina (1995). Servants, sirdars, settlers: Indians in Mauritius 1834–1874. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Carter, Marina, & Deerpalsingh, Saloni (eds.) (2000). Across the Kalapani: The Bihari presence in Mauritius. Port-Louis: Centre for Research on Indian Ocean Societies.
Carter, Marina, & Deerpalsingh, Saloni (2000). Bihar: The migratory state. In Carter & Deerpalsingh, 1524.
Dalmia, Vasudha (1997). The nationalization of Hindu traditions: Bharatendu Harishchandra and nineteenth-century Banaras. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Deerpalsingh, Saloni (2000). The characteristics of Bihari recruits. In Carter & Deerpalsingh, 4356.
Eisenlohr, Patrick (2001). Language ideology and imaginations of Indianness in Mauritius. Dissertation, University of Chicago, Department of Anthropology.
Eriksen, Thomas Hylland (1990). Linguistic diversity and the quest for national identity: The case of Mauritius. Ethnic and Racial Studies 13:124.Google Scholar
Errington, J. Joseph (1985). On the nature of the sociolinguistic sign: Describing the Javanese speech levels. In Elisabeth Mertz & Richard Parmentier (eds.), Semiotic mediation, 287310. New York: Academic Press.CrossRef
Gal, Susan (1993). Diversity and contestation in linguistic ideologies: German speakers in Hungary. Language in Society 22:33759.Google Scholar
Gal, Susan, & Irvine, Judith (1995). The boundaries of languages and disciplines: How ideologies construct difference. Social Research 62:9671001Google Scholar
Gambhir, Surendra K. (1986). Mauritian Bhojpuri: An international perspective on historic and sociolinguistic processes. In Uttam Bissoondoyal & S.B.C. Servansing (eds.), Indian labor immigration: Papers presented at the International Conference on Indian Labor Immigration (23–27 October 1984) held at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute, 189206. Moka, Mauritius: Mahatma Gandhi Institute.
Gambhir, Surendra K. (1988). The modern Indian diaspora and language. In Peter Gaeffke & David A. Utz (eds.), The countries of South Asia: Boundaries, extensions and interrelations, 14557. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, Department of South Asia Regional Studies.
Gellner, Ernest (1983). Nations and nationalism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Gumperz, John (1972 [1968]). The speech community. In Pier Paolo Giglioli (ed.), Language and social context, 21932. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Hanks, William F. (1987). Discourse genres in a theory of practice. American Ethnologist 14:66892.Google Scholar
Hill, Jane H. (1985). The grammar of consciousness and the consciousness of grammar. American Ethnologist 12:72537.Google Scholar
Hill, Jane H. (1998). “Today there is no respect”: Nostalgia, “respect”, and oppositional discourse in Mexicano (Nahuatl) language ideology. In Schieffelin et al., 6886.
Hookoomsing, Vinesh Y. (1986). Langue et identité ethnique: Les langues ancestrales à Maurice. Journal of Mauritian Studies 1:11737.Google Scholar
Hymes, Dell (1984 [1968]). Linguistic problems in defining the concept of “tribe.” In John Baugh & Joel Sherzer (eds.), Language in use: Readings in sociolinguistics, 727. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.
Irvine, Judith, & Gal, Susan (2000). Language ideology and linguistic differentiation. In Kroskrity, Regimes of Language: Ideologies, Polities, and Identites 3584.
King, Christopher R. (1989). Forging a new linguistic identity: The Hindi movement in Banaras, 1868–1914. In Sandria B. Freitag (ed.), Culture and power in Banaras: Community, performance and environment 1800–1914. Berkeley: University of California Press.
King, Christopher R. (1994). One language, two scripts: The Hindi movement in nineteenth century North India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Kroskrity, Paul V. (ed.) (2000). Regimes of language: Ideologies, polities and identities. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.
Lelyveld, David (1993). The fate of Hindustani: Colonial knowledge and the project of a national language. In Carol A. Breckenridge & Peter van der Veer (eds.), Orientalism and the postcolonial predicament, 189214. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Mesthrie, Rajend (1993). Koineization in the Bhojpuri-Hindi diaspora with special reference to South Africa. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 99:2544.Google Scholar
Mohit, Dimlalah (1994). Moriśas ki bhojpuri mem pracalit lokoktiyam, muhavare, git, paheliyam aur kahaniyam [Current popular sayings, idioms, songs, riddles and stories in Mauritian Bhojpuri]. Caroline, Bel-Air, Mauritius: privately published.
Parsuraman, Armoogun (1988). From ancestral cultures to national culture: Moka, Mauritius: Mahatma Gandhi Institute.
Parsuraman, Armoogun (n.d.). Towards green horizons. Beau Bassin: Mauritius Institute of Education/Curriculum Development Unit.
Ramdin, Suchita (1989). Sanskar manjri. Mariśas ke bhojpuri sanskar git [Bouquet of rites: Mauritian Bhojpuri ritual songs]. Moka: Mahatma Gandhi Institute.
Ramyead, L.P. (1985). The establishment and cultivation of modern standard Hindi in Mauritius. Moka: Mahatma Gandhi Institute.
Schieffelin, Bambi B.; Woolard, Kathryn A.; & Kroskrity, Paul V. (eds.) (1998). Language ideology: Practice and theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Silverstein, Michael (1996a [1987]). Monoglot ‘standard’ in America: Standardization and metaphors of linguistic hegemony. In D. Brenneis & R.K.S. Macaulay (eds.), The matrix of language: Contemporary linguistic anthropology. Boulder: Westview.
Silverstein, Michael (1996b). Indexical order and the dialectics of sociolinguistic life. In R. Parker et al. (eds.), SALSA III: Proceedings of the Third Annual Symposium About Language and Society. Austin: University of Texas, Department of Linguistics.
Silverstein, Michael (1998). The uses and utility of ideology: A commentary. In Schieffelin et al., 12348.
Silverstein, Michael (2000 [1981]). The limits of awareness. In Alessandro Duranti (ed.), Linguistic anthropology: A reader. Oxford: Blackwell.
Simmons, Adele Smith (1982). Modern Mauritius: The politics of decolonization. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Spitulnik, Debra (1997). The social circulation of media discourse and the mediation of communities. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 6:16187.Google Scholar
Stein, Peter (1982). Connaissance et emploi des langues à l'Ile Maurice. Hamburg: Helmut Buske.
Tinker, Hugh (1974). A new system of slavery: The export of Indian labor overseas 1830–1920. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Urla, Jaqueline (1993). Cultural politics in an age of statistics. Numbers, nations and the making of Basque identity. American Ethnologist 20:81843.Google Scholar
Woolard, Kathryn A. (1985). Language variation and cultural hegemony. American Ethnologist 12:73848.Google Scholar
Woolard, Kathryn A. (1989). Double talk: Bilingualism and the politics of ethnicity in Catalonia. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Woolard, Kathryn A. (1998). Simultaneity and bivalency as strategies in bilingualism. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 8:329.Google Scholar
11
Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Register levels of ethno-national purity: The ethnicization of language and community in Mauritius
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Register levels of ethno-national purity: The ethnicization of language and community in Mauritius
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Register levels of ethno-national purity: The ethnicization of language and community in Mauritius
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *