Local Differences and Transnational Ties: The Gujarati Hindu Community of Cape Town
Author: Molly Fitzpatrick
This paper makes the case for a reconceptualisation of transnational connections, incorporating the influence of the local and historical context of migration. Following the transnational turn in migration studies, scholars have stressed the way in which the connections migrants maintain across nation-state boundaries affect their daily lives and subjectivities in the place of settlement. In these studies, transnational connections are taken as the main unit of analysis, and the local context of the host society is seen as the derivative. As a result, the influence of the local context on the way in which transnational ties are maintained is overlooked. Based on five months of fieldwork amongst the Gujarati Hindu community of Cape Town, the case presented here will show that local particularities have an inherent impact on global processes, and that the local and the global cannot be understood separately from each other. The Gujarati Hindu community has been settled in South Africa for over a century but India remains important to their daily lives, and transnational activities are extensively engaged in. Linking the local context to global connections, I argue that the regionalised migration trajectories and the manifestation of the history of apartheid in the local context have significantly impacted the way in which these transnational ties are maintained.
Key Words: Indians, South Africa, migration, transnationalism, caste