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Some thoughts after the LALIT Conference on Strategy


Here is an article written by a Port Louis branch member, TR, that has been circulated in LALIT branches, together with the thoughts of Dominique M. (See another article loaded same date as this one):

Herein are some embryonic thoughts following Lalit’s “Conference on Strategy” on national day. Hoping for comments and criticism of what I’m writing here.

I am thinking how to put it simply to young people I often meet that mauritianism is a loaded term. We can of course go through the initial process of negation raising a few simple points to clarify. Like the ship metaphor is appropriate as it becomes immediately clear that we are not really on the same ship when there are actually various classes on board and among the crew. And for generations those in first class and on the bridge have only maintained their positions unconcerned about the rest. I think the metaphor can be made more appropriate if we consider the select few on the holiday cruise ship while the big majority following in little boats, on rafts and holding to planks in a flotilla that we call mauritianism. And further it is clearly erroneous to say we are one people and one nation as this oneness is surely levelling the important differences among us. But then to keep approaching the issue negatively leaves like a void to many especially the young who do not want to feel thrown once again in the abstraction of politico-philosophical discussion.

In that respect I wish to try to express the issue of mauritianism positively and not make it more alien than it already is, I hope. First I don’t think it is about rejecting the flag or the term mauritianism as both these forces are already strongly present, like in many schools, pupils on a daily basis have some form of flag raising ceremony. There are beliefs and feelings that are being kept alive and will not just go by erasing a term. So I think the same term can surely be redefined in an oppositional way. But again this might be too much of a tedious process of reconstructing and rehabilitating a term for many who may not pay attention and make a hotchpotch. I realise that catch words and phrases have definitely more impact and some compromise needs to be made by using an entirely new symbol as starting point to discuss the question of nation. This has made me think of a few new terms to mark some contrast with mauritianism like mauritian, mauritianhood, mauritianness, intermauritian, mauritianisms, altermauritian etc. I personally find more affinity with the term “mauritianness” which feels like an open term that allows redefinition and from individually specific elements, but seems that with its creole translation the term will more likely get swallowed by mauritianism. The other terms seem to want to settle down to a more rigid meaning except for interalter Mauritian. Intermauritian makes the identity a process of always redefining oneself with respect to the other, hence the term intermauritianisation expresses the continual process involved. Altermauritianisation also strongly resists the sweeping waves of capitalist globalisation that want to absorb the local.

The main difference with Intermauritianisation is that it begins with the individual and is a continual process. It is about sensing oneself as a Mauritian, giving sense and making sense of what it is to be living and located against social predeterminations. This process involves a subjective redefining of oneself in opposition to forces that predefine both one’s environment and oneself. So I am always aware what others are doing and I push them to account for my position and not just adhere to some constructed position fitting some social role. My position is the way I live daily that constantly contradicts some institutional role imposed upon me. I am for instance put in the role of a student but many other forces come and disempower me in that role. I don’t understand what goes on in class, at home I have no guidance or support to organise my studies and I am pushed to demand extra money for supplementary coaching after school hours when ample time is already available in normal school hours. My situation is oppressive however much the press and television are shouting that education is free. So intermauritianisation consists of resisting what everybody else is assuming about me and imposing it without consulting me at all.

Further intermauritianisation is to redefine myself with or through another against the overwhelming propaganda of individualism. It is in a context where both our situations become meaningful to each other and are not just assumed to be formal relations. Both our situations become meaningful when we make joint efforts to combat oppressive conditions more effectively. It is a situation of one thinking the other’s problem as a most effective means to understand one’s own. As a pupil I learn about how my friend tackles a maths problem and by understanding his approach I understand mine better. As an elder or teacher I must be able to allow the other to question my status position and bypass it or any institutional restraints by giving free support and free time to go round heavy discriminations inherent in the system.

Intermauritianisation is learning to redefine one’s position, resistance and combativeness through group action against sociological institutionalism. The group learns about each other’s problems and solutions. The attempt is to break the false security of individualism and viewing the other as threat or rivalry. The group resists institutional hierarchies and reworks institutional mechanisms to bring quicker and more effective results. For example the group can share the responsibility of after school caretaking of children together with providing educational support through developing novel effective approaches.

Intermauritianisation is to relate one’s personal history to one’s politico-economic history through an active group struggling for emancipation against the dehistorisising organisation of knowledge. Both education and the media work to break people from local historical links. Or that link is deftly dislocated and reshaped as one standardised history. The difficulties in one’s personal history are to be mobilised as a joint history of political and economic disempowerment. The group combats the erasure of personal histories of hardships by the sweeping so called new global culture. The ideological machine of the western culture industry needs to be examined with great care as people and especially children have strongly identified with it. For example films from bhollyhood, soaps from south America or advertisements need to be questioned in subtle ways to tease out their dominantly bourgeois ideological content.

TR, a participant, 16.03.2012