Volume 5, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1053-6981
  • E-ISSN: 2405-9374
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Abstract Indentured laborers from India were brought to the West Indies beginning in the 1840s. They form upwards of 40% of the population of several West Indian territories, including Trinidad (part of the nation of Trinidad and Tobago). Despite considerable assimilation to West Indian norms, these peo-ple of Indian descent feel strongly about retaining a separate and distinctive cultural identity. There is no overall consensus, however, as to what these people and their distinctive culture should be called. I argue that the quest for an appropriate label of ethnic identity is not a matter of arcane academic interest, but is at the heart of these people's construction of a secure place in a pluralistic society. The technique of projective life-history narrative is explored as a means to uncover the dynamic of the discourse of ethnic self-identification in modern Trinidad. Four widely used labels of ethnic identity are seen as master meta-phors to which individual life accounts are assimilated. Analysis of the formal properties of those accounts facilitates an understanding of how people of Indian descent think of themselves and present themselves in social interaction with members of other groups. (Anthropology)


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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