Dr Parvathi Raman

I am an anthropologist and historian and I conduct research on the South Asian diaspora, in both historical and contemporary contexts. I am interested in the emergence of diasporic consciousness and forms of political subjectivity amongst diverse South Asian migrant populations, primarily in South Africa and postwar Britain. I joined the Anthropology department at SOAS in the early 1990s and have taught a range of course covering theoretical and philosophical issues in anthropology and approaches to migration and diaspora studies. I developed our MA in Migration and Diaspora Studies, which we began in 2003, and am the current Director of Studies. In 2007 I initiated the SOAS Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies, which coordinates migration related research and teaching across the school, organises seminars and lectures, and builds national and international collaborative networks. I am the current chair of the Centre. I am also the SOAS coordinator of the Marie Cure Initial Training Network research project, CoHaB, Diasporic Constructions of Home and Belonging.

In my original research, I studied the historical background to the construction of ‘Indianness’ in South Africa up until 1952, where the idea of community was evoked through reinscibing cultural traditions brought from India, as well as being shaped by the new ways of life that developed in South Africa. In particular, I looked at why a small but significant group of Indian South Africans joined the South African Communist Party. I considered the ways that sections of the Indian community were radicalised through fighting for democratic rights and citizenship in South Africa, and the complex social, cultural and political influences that were woven into new forms of resistance in their social landscape.

I also traced the emergence of a ‘diasporic’ consciousness at certain points in time in this history. I looked to the role of political figureheads such as Gandhi and Yusuf Dadoo and their part in the overcoming difference in the diverse South Asian population, bringing to the fore collective identifications and ‘diasporic recognition’. I continued my research on political figureheads in a study of Che Guevara and the transnational socialist imaginary, where I looked to changing ideas of utopia in political iconography. I have subsequently worked on ideas of political subjectivity in diasporic communities in Britain, and ideas of home and belonging as expressed through migrant culinary practices.

My current research project is a study of South Asian communities in postwar Britain and their relationship to cricket, where I explore how a love of the game for many South Asians, and attachments to homeland teams, has fuelled continuing bonds to a home ‘elsewhere’ across the generations, as well as shaping the politics of community formation in Britain.

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Danielle Faye Tran
is the Administrative Assistant for CoHaB at the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London), where she is also a third year doctoral student working on 'Post-TRC Traumatic Narratives and South Africa's Literary Recovery'. She has published articles and reviews on post-colonial texts and trauma studies. She is also the Administrative and Research Assistant for the Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies at SOAS. 

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