Research Projects

Back from Golden Land. Repatriation experiences, shifting identities and contemporary influence of Burmese Indian returnees in Calcutta and Madras, India

(Funded under Small Project Funding Scheme, The University of Hong Kong)

Principal Investigator

Renaud Egreteau, Research Assistant Professor, Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences
(Remarks: Dr. Renaud Egreteau left the University’s service from October 1, 2013.)

Total Fund Awarded

HKD 53,950

Project Duration

February 2011 – January 2013

Project Description

This research project explores the contemporary trajectories of the various Indian diasporic communities that migrated from India to Burma during colonial and early postcolonial times (“Burmese Indians”), but then faced forced repatriation back to “homeland” India from the early 1960s. It proposes to focus on two specific case studies in India, the cities of Calcutta (Kolkata) in West Bengal and Madras (Chennai) in Tamil Nadu as both saw a significant number of Burmese-Indian repatriates building up community-based urban settlements and socio-economic networks there (Burma Colony in Eastern Calcutta, Burma Bazaar in Madras). It comparatively examines their (ir)relevance to the contemporary political landscape of an emerging India as well as military-ruled Burma, maps out their transnational networking capacities and diasporic solidarities whilst looking for regional comparisons with other diasporic “returnees” minorities. It is innovatively drawn on original fieldwork in Eastern India and New Delhi. Conference papers and peer-reviewed articles are in preparation, including for the 10th Burma Studies Conference and a Special Issue of the French academic journal “Moussons” on exile, forced migration and repatriation from Burma/Myanmar, which I am co-editing (June 2013).