Situated in the broader context of the South Asian diaspora, Indian Gujarati merchant families in colonial East Africa participate in creating a modern history of migration. Building on preexisting connections between western India and eastern Africa, families create networks and recreate community in a unique diasporic context. Constituted not only of men, but also women who accompany and follow their entrepreneurial, adverturer husbands, and later daughters and wives, Gujarati business families are ensured a place in the historical record as a constituent community in British East Africa. In this new colonial site, newly marked by the railway systems, market towns, mills, ports, and commercial institutions, diasporic families maintain their household’s multiple and dynamic functions to capitalize on the economic profitability of the “home” and, thus, enable women to participate in retail activity. This essay argues that once women are included in an examination of Indian immigrant life in East Africa, then the fluidity of motion and shifting loyalities among a globalized and mobile community force us to re-imagine place and patriarchy. Mobility gives rise to the dukawalli - the female counterpart to the dukawalla - one who runs the shop. Consequently, we are allowed to challenge dichotomized notions of household and work, to question universalizing conceptions of patriarchy, and to demonstrate how women are enabled in new ways inside and outside of the home.
"At Home, At Work: Indian Immigrant Women in Colonial East Africa (c.1920-1940),"
Wagadu: A Journal of Transnational Women's & Gender Studies: Vol. 10:
1, Article 10.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.cortland.edu/wagadu/vol10/iss1/10