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School of Mauritian and Area Studies (SMAS)
Dr. (Mrs) A. Jahangeer-Chojoo, Head, School of Mauritian and Area Studies
Tel: (230) 4032000, (230) 4339294
Established in 1976, the School of Mauritian and Area Studies has served as a focal point for research on Mauritian history, geography, culture, literature, religion and social dynamics. With its constituent departments the SMAS runs several courses and research projects. A major focus is research and teaching on Indian Ocean migration streams, integration in settler societies, diasporic networks and cultural productions. The SMAS regularly organizes international conferences that have been lively hubs for intellectual debate and exchanges, and breeding grounds for research and applied policy development. The SMAS is housed in the SMAS building situated in the flowery campus of Moka. It which includes a language laboratory and the Subramania Bharati Lecture Theatre with a seating capacity of 150.
Many publications have been produced thanks to the Department of Printing and Publishing of the MGI. The flagship periodical of SMAS is the refereed bi-annual Journal of Mauritian Studies. Since 1986 this journal publishes articles in English and French pertaining to the processes of change and development in the Mauritian and Indian Ocean societies and culture. Some issues are thematic while others are open. Submissions are invited from scholars from social sciences, humanities and interdisciplinary perspectives. The SMAS includes several departments, namely The Centre for Mauritian Studies, The Department of Bhojpuri Folklore and Oral Traditions, the Indian Diaspora Centre, the Chinese Department and the Museum of Indian Immigration.
Centre for Mauritian Studies (CMS)
Mr J. Ng Foong Kwong, Lecturer & Head Centre for Mauritian Studies (Ph: 4032000, Ext 2124)
Staff of CMS
Mrs Z. Beebeejaun, Lecturer
Department of Chinese Studies
Mrs Juining Kon Kam King, Head Department of Chinese Studies (Ph: 403-2011)
Indian Diaspora Centre
Dr. P. Ramhota, Senior Lecturer & Head Indian Diaspora Centre
The Indian Diaspora is the third largest Diaspora in the world, next to the British and Chinese Diasporas. Mauritius is one of the main countries of the Old Indian Diaspora and the need for establishing an Indian Diaspora Centre has been strongly recommended at the MGI as the Institute has been engaged in the promotion of societal studies, the preservation and promotion of Indian cultural heritage, among other educational tasks since its creation in 1970. The Institute is well positioned and equipped to establish a centre for the study of Indian Diaspora.
Aims and Objectives
The Indian Diaspora Centre aims at enhancing our knowledge and understanding of the Indian Diaspora. The objective of the Centre will be to impart knowledge about Indian Diaspora and foster excellence in the study of the Indian Diaspora locally and in the Indian Ocean region. It will also organise seminars, conferences, workshops, exhibitions pertaining to Indian Diaspora.
The centre will undertake interdisciplinary research on Indian Diaspora. Besides research on the historical context of the Indian Diaspora during the colonial and post-colonial phases, the civilisational heritage of Diasporic communities, continuities and transformation in culture, economy and political life will be questioned. It will promote communication and establish linkages between India and the people of Indian origin in a global context.
The Programme of Indian Diaspora Studies will be as follows:
• Migration and mobility (17th to 21st Centuries).
• Process of emigration, settlement and identity formation in host societies.
• Comparative and inter-disciplinary studies
• Literatures of the Diaspora
• Socio economic study of the Diaspora
• Cultures of the Diaspora
• Towards the making of the global Indian Diaspora.
• Indian Diaspora oral history and heritage project.
The Indian Diaspora Centre will also serve as a resource centre for Indian Diaspora culture. It will reinforce the activities of the Museum and the Indian Immigration Archives to serve as a resource centre of excellence. It will provide facilities and support to visiting scholars, researchers and the public at large. The following will be organised:
• Yearly seminars/workshops/conferences
• Public events
• Regional and international collaborative activities
The Indian Diaspora Centre will also have outreach programmes to create awareness of the importance of Indian Diaspora. Educational, radio, TV and community programmes will be organised from an Indian global Diaspora perspective to enlist youth and community participation. Different activities will be organised on a local and regional basis to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and views worldwide.
The centre proposes to offer one visiting fellow each year to carry out specific research project and to finalise monographs/reports at the centre for a period of 3 months. In the past, we have had academicians from JNU, Hyderabad University but today visiting fellows will be from renowned Indian Diaspora Centres excelling in the different disciplines of the Diaspora.
The Centre for Mauritian Studies operates as full-fledged centre of higher learning since 1996. This move re-emphasized the importance of the Mauritian Studies as an area of studies for which the Mahatma Gandhi Institute has had a clear mandate since 1976 when the school of Mauritian, Asian and African Studies (SMAAS) was created.
The creation of the SMAAS in 1976 as one of the constituent schools of the Mahatma Gandhi embodies a vision – that of enlarging the role of the MGI so as to provide a unique academic meeting-ground of cultures, a laboratory to investigate the heritage and the society in the making.
The Centre for Mauritian Studies is involved in the analysis of the Mauritian society through research and teaching as well as cultural activities. It has, since its inception, oriented research projects and taught modules towards a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach, focusing primarily on Literature and Social Sciences. The disciplinary orientation of the research in Mauritian Studies is in History, Literature, Social Geography, Sociology, Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies. The field of Mauritian Studies offers panoply of opportunities for in-depth understanding of the Mauritian multicultural society. You will discover and learn about the rich history and culture of the Mauritius from the perspective of the different disciplines, and in the academic setting. The Centre offers graduate and undergraduate teaching programmes, and takes advantage of new sources of funding and new opportunities for collaborative research.
Centre for Mauritian Studies
The Centre has as mission to strengthen and promote research in Immigration and Settlement, Migration and Diaspora, Mauritian Studies, Comparative Literature, Cultural Studies and Area studies.
It also helps disseminate research findings through its own publications, joint publications, joint publication, as well as through contributions to specialized publications, consolidate teaching at undergraduate and post-graduate levels, to supervise dissertations and theses in the specific fields and disciplines of the Centre and its staff and to contribute to social and cultural enrichment through outreach programme.
The Centre aims at promoting a sense of national identity, through inter-cultural understanding in line with Government policy, and identified social demand, and national expectation and at establishing itself as centre of international repute in its identified fields of specialization and interest.
Its major objectives are to present Mauritian Studies as an organized and growing body of knowledge, through a survey and assessment of available works, and the production of an annotated bibliography which will be regularly updated, as a major research tool, to set up a fully functional library of Mauritian Studies, to publish the bi-annual Journal of Mauritian Studies, to define an integrated programme of research in identified fields of specialization, with emphasis on interdisciplinary and comparative studies, to publish scholarly work in the identified fields, to provide a forum for international meetings of scholars in the line with (4), to conduct seminars, conferences, organize exhibitions and undertake production for the media in the identified fields of specialization and interest, to undertake curriculum development for inputs at all education levels, in collaboration with sister institutions and other departments of the MGI, to enlarge and consolidate holdings on Immigration, in order to reflect the movements of people from different origins to Mauritius, to provide consultancy services to relevant bodies relating to the National Heritage, e.g. Archives, National Monuments, artifacts etc and to set up a Contemporary Papers Holdings.
Research and Publications
The Centre disseminates research findings through the MGI publications, joint publication with local and foreign publishers, and also through the contribution of its members to specialized publications. The major thrust of research and publication has been in the fields of History, with an emphasis on Social History, and on Mauritian Literature predominantly in French. The publications of the MGI in these fields cover different periods, and aspects of Mauritian History, as well as biographies of some eminent figures.
B.A (Hons) Mauritian Studies – 3 years full time (see website www.uom.ac.mu)
Electives on offer:
MST 1221 – Overview of History, MST 2122 – Literature and Society, MST 2124 – Aspects of Contemporary History and MST 3123 – Contemporary Issues.
M.A Migration Studies (New) (see website www.uom.ac.mu)
Career Propects: research, museums, cultural centres, tourism & travels, teaching, media.
List of Conference/Seminars
Department of Mauritian Studies
- Dr. P. Ramhota made a presentation at a research seminar on the theme “Religious Heritage and Sacred Sites among Indo-Mauritians”, 18 April 2008 in the context of the International Day for Monuments and Sites for Religious Heritage and Sacred Sites.
- Half-day seminar by External Examiner, Prof. Christian Ghasarian talked on his research carried on the topic “Réflexions sur les dynamiques identitaires à La Réunion” - 2 July 2008.
- An Academic Rencontre was organized to discuss on recent literary publications. Mr. Barlen Pyamootoo, Mauritian literary writer, was invited to talk on his latest publication Salogi - 7 October 2008.
- A Roundtable on the theme Creation in 21st Century Mauritius. Opportunities and Prospects was organized in June 2009.
- In the context of the International Day for Mother-Tongue, the Centre for Mauritian Studies jointly with Ledikasyon Pu Travayer organised a seminar conducted by Prof. Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, expert on mother-tongue from Finland, on the theme “Literacy and Oracy in mother-tongue based multilingual education” - 23 October 2009.