Diasporas and Identities in the western Indian Ocean

My research is framed by two intersecting ethnographic and theoretical orientations. Ethnographically my primary field site is the Comoro Islands, where I have been working on Ngazidja since my doctorate and on Mayotte more recently, and my secondary site is that part of the Hadrami diaspora that is found on the western Indian littoral, from the Gulf states in the north to Madagascar in the south, and, sometimes, a little inland. My hypothesis here is that the Hadrami diasporic community has a cohesiveness and a shared sense of identity that extends across geographically dispersed spaces, even if this shared identity is sometimes more imagined than real.

Theoretically I find most things in the Comoros interesting - space, marriage rituals or slavery in Ngazidja, for example - but, again, my specific interests lies in questions of identity, both diasporic ones (with particular reference to Hadramis, of course, even in the Comoros) and more locally emplaced ones. Thus my recent and ongoing work on the conflicts between Maorais and Wandzuani on Mayotte and the accompanying expressions, or disavowals, of French or Comorian identity. Having spent several years working on these issues on Mayotte, I now turn my attention to intra-Comorian relationships, and particularly between Maorais (however they may be defined) and others on Ndzuani and Ngazidja, and intra-French relationships between Maorais with French citizenship and other French citizens elsewhere in France.

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