From White Mughals to Vikram Seth, novels, historical blockbusters and more nuanced anthropological and postcolonial critiques have exposed the fiction of fixed notions of "race" through sensitive understandings of the liminal space of the "inter-racial" relationship and the "mixed-race" experience. In an era where the textual and cultural production of hybridity has become a new form of cultural capital, articulations of racial "inbetween-ness" have also become somewhat universalised and romanticised. While acknowledging the radical potential of these new paradigms of transnational slippage and métissage as an affront to the old narratives of racial certainty, this article challenges the universalization of the term "mixed-race" in the context of colonial India, both ontologically and historically. By historicising cultural difference according to the social syntax that gives it meaning, it asks whether the term "mixed race" has political relevance in all colonial spaces and across time and culture or whether it needs to be interrogated as an historical product in itself. Finallly, this article turns to the politics of location in a global context to illustrate the limits of Homi Bhabha's notion of the "third space" by moving beyond celebratory and static notions of the "mixed-race" experience.
- early colonial India
- global history