Creolisation and Conviviality in a Borderless World

Thomas Hylland Eriksen, University of Oslo.

Cosmopolitanism may rightly be criticised for being too abstract and aloof to be genuinely useful in the everyday attempts at living together. Conviviality, while more down-to-earth and founded in practices rather than concepts, tends to be applied mainly to public settings, leaving the domestic life alone. I will argue that the historical and contemporary experiences of the Creole world have created a range of possible social and cultural configurations which encompass cosmopolitanism, create conditions for conviviality and expand the project of living together by engaging the arts and music, language and food, as well as – crucially – rejecting social boundaries limiting the possibilities of intermarriage and social mixing in the private sphere.

The lecture draws on the literature on creolisation as well as of conviviality, but its main thrust consists in a description of the Creole identity in the Indian Ocean island state of Mauritius, comparing the creole way of being in the world to that of bounded, endogamous groups and thereby showing that conviviality in the public sphere is compatible with firm group boundaries, which Creoledom is not. In this sense, the Creole identity represents an inoculation against divisive identity politics.

For further reading: Between inequality and difference: the creole world in the twenty-first century

If you want to participate in the seminar via Zoom, please contact Åse Magnusson.

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