African or Indian? A Critique of Literature Review of the Siddi People and their Sense of Place

Authors: Sumanth Reddy*, Bowie State University
Topics: Cultural Geography, Social Geography, Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: Siddis, topophilia, literature review, race, discrimination, India
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The Siddi people of India are descendants of Bantu populations of East and Central Africa. They were brought to India in several waves for different purposes starting in the 12th century. Some were brought as slaves and soldiers while others came as traders and merchants. Eventually, many of them settled in a few areas of India primarily in the states of Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, and Telangana. Although many Siddis look more African (Bantu) than Indian, India is the only country they have ever known and affiliate with. This paper, as part of a larger research project on Siddis thoroughly examines the existing academic literature on Siddis. Although this is not a widely studied topic in Western academic circles, there are a few publications on the origins of the Siddis and more specifically their genealogy. However, there are few to no geographic studies on the Siddis and topophilia. The concept of a sense of place and belonging is vital to Siddi existence and rightfully, this paper delves into a critique of existing literature. The primary question I try to answer in this critique is twofold: 1) Do non-Siddis look at Siddis as African or Indian? In return, 2) do Siddis consider themselves Indian or African, or somewhere in between the two groups?

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