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Chagos Islanders in Mauritius and the UKForced Displacement and Onward Migration$
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Laura Jeffery

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780719084300

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719084300.001.0001

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Singing the homeland

Singing the homeland

(p.57) 3 Singing the homeland
Chagos Islanders in Mauritius and the UK

Laura Jeffery

Manchester University Press

Displaced Chagos islanders are not only embroiled in political mobilisation and protest: they also participate in cultural expression in exile. This chapter illustrates how representations of a homeland in song lyrics and oral narratives have been transformed through experiences of displacement and relocation, and asks to what extent such transformed representations help or hinder political and legal struggles in exile. Focusing on the relationship between displacement and musical production, it reveals the changing structure and thematic content of Chagossian song lyrics by comparing the lyrics of songs composed by Chagos islanders while living on the colonial Chagos Archipelago with those composed by displaced Chagos islanders living in exile. The latter songs form part of an emergent collective historical imagination motivated by the political and legal struggles for compensation and the right to return to Chagos.

Keywords:   Chagos islanders, exile, cultural expression, Chagossian song lyrics, oral narratives, displacement, relocation, homeland, compensation, Chagos

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