chapter  40
18 Pages

Ethnicity

Dougla is among the most prominent and contested cultural, biological and political signifiers in the modern history of Trinidad and Tobago. A Hindi word used to describe an Indian/African mixed race person (Reddock 1994: 101), its significance in Trinidad and Tobago is generated and sustained by the ongoing political and cultural contestation between Indians and Africans in the negotiation of postcolonial national identity. There is some discursive resemblance between the word ‘dougla’ and the many others such as half-caste, mulatto, mestizo, browning, high brown, coloured, shabine, Chinee Royale and creole used to describe diverse admixtures of people in a region that Stuart Hall reminds us is ‘a signifier of migration itself and that diaspora in the context of the New World is defined by hybridity’ (Hall 1994: 401-2). Dougla, however, is uniquely contentious as it labels a relationship between two groups that are laterally rather than hierarchically positioned in relation to each other.