Translating between India and Tanzania: Sophia Mustafa's partial cosmopolitanism

Steiner T. (2011)


Sophia Mustafa (1922-2005), novelist and political activist of South Asian origin, was one of Tanganyika's first women members of parliament for the Tanganyika African National Union active in the transition from a British-administered trust territory to independent Tanzania under Julius Nyerere. This paper argues, by drawing on her novel Broken Reed (2005) and her nonfictional account The Tanganyika Way: A Personal Story of Tanganyika's Growth to Independence ([1961] 2009), that her crosscultural position required multiple translations that profoundly shaped her political vision. Having witnessed the arrival of Independence in India in 1947, with its partition violence, Mustafa insisted repeatedly that she considered herself Tanganyikan, rather than a member of the Asian community. Mustafa's life trajectory and writing, even though shaped by colonial migratory circuits, draws on alternative sites of knowledge production in the complex interaction between India and Tanzania and out of this South-South perspective emerges a nuanced, albeit at times unsettling, understanding of cosmopolitan nationalist politics. © 2011.

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