Upcoming Events

06 August 2024 – [TALK] Fort Creole: Transcolonial Enclaves and their Postcolonial Afterlives

[Talk] Fort Creole: Transcolonial Enclaves and their Postcolonial Afterlives
by Ananya Jahanara Kabir

Date: Tuesday, 06 August 2024
Time: 8.00pm-9.30pm
Venue: Conference Hall, Penang Institute

Registration link: https://bit.ly/talk-fort-creole
Entrance to this event is FREE.

About the Speaker
Ananya Jahanara Kabir FBA is Professor of English Literature at King’s College London and Fellow of the British Academy. Her research spans creolisation across the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds, critical philology, and the relationship between literary texts, embodied cultural expression, and memory work. Professor Kabir is the author of Paradise, Death and Doomsday in Anglo-Saxon Literature (2002), Territory of Desire: Representing the Valley of Kashmir (2009) and Partition’s Post-Amnesias: 1947, 1971, and Modern South Asia (2013). She has been awarded India’s Infosys Prize in the Humanities and Germany’s Humboldt Research Prize. Ananya is on the editorial team of the new Cambridge University Press journal, Public Humanities. She is currently writing the book, Alegropolitics: Creolising Connection on the AfroModern Dance Floor, arising from her ERC Advanced Grant-funded project ‘Modern Moves’ (2013-2018). In 2024, she is Faculty Fellow at the Global Cultures Institute, King’s College London, where she is developing her project, ‘Fort Creole: Transcolonial Enclaves and Archipelagic Memory across the Atlantic and Indian Ocean Worlds’.

Fort Creoles’ are languages that emerged around fortified enclaves set up by Europeans in extra-European spaces for the protection of their military and trade interests. My talk uses this concept from Creole linguistics as an entry-point for the fortifications that Europeans began establishing on Indian Ocean littorals from the fifteenth century onwards. What kind of lives were lived here, what cultural innovations did they catalyse, and what is their memorial imprint, particularly given an efflorescence of ‘heritage tourism’ around these fortified remains? Drawing on ongoing fieldwork in South and Southeast Asian sites – Kochi, Pondicherry and Tranquebar, Galle, and Melaka, I argue for European-built forts in the Indian Ocean world as motors of creolisation that stand in dynamic tension with their urban afterlives, including sites such as Penang, set up by the British during a later stage of imperial capitalism in both competition with and emulation of earlier models. Within postcolonial nations such as India and Malaysia, where discourses of modernity and national belonging are increasingly attached to notions of purity, indigeneity, and autochthony, what is the legacy and indeed significance, of Fort Creole culture?