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Melancholia of FreedomSocial Life in an Indian Township in South Africa$
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Thomas Blom Hansen

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691152950

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691152950.001.0001

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The Unwieldy Fetish

The Unwieldy Fetish

Desi Fantasies, Roots Tourism, and Diasporic Desires

(p.200) Chapter 6 The Unwieldy Fetish
Melancholia of Freedom

Thomas Blom Hansen

Princeton University Press

This chapter looks at the new economy of diasporic imagination that hit South Africa after 1994. It begins by examining a range of narratives of roots tourism whereby thousands of South African Indians each year travel to India in search of the village of their ancestors and for shopping and/or spiritual purification. These journeys are often complex discoveries of both the real and the imaginary India, and are almost invariably linked to desires for purification and “proper” Indianness and “culture,” which, in their turn, are spawned by social mobility and ambition. The other side of this new fascination with India's past and its emerging power as a nation is an intense interest in Bollywood films and their songs, stars, and aesthetics.

Keywords:   South Africa, roots tourism, South African Indians, diasporic imagination, spiritual purification, Bollywood films, social mobility, ambition

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