Becoming elite in a contested terrain: The post-colonial experiences of the Franco-Mauritian population in Mauritius


  • Serah Shani


Reading postcolonial Sub-Saharan African political history books usually evokes a sense that African indigenous people, mostly phenotypically black Sub-Saharan people, were subject to a heroic European colonial conquest and suffered the effects of political domination at every level of society thereafter. Such books portray militant control, identity reclamation, and spatial ownership tied to pre-conquest origins. In this sense, indigenous Africans are perceived as the rightful claimants of geographic ownership and identity. However, according to author Tijo Slaverda, the case of Mauritius is unique, in that there were no original inhabitants in the country by the time the first Europeans arrived. The author argues that “This absence of natives facilitated white settlers to establish an elite position without much competition or resistance” (p.  2). According to the author, the island was empty at the beginning of the colonial period, and Europeans of French origin were the first to inhabit and populate the island. Other immigrants from Africa and other parts the world arrived later and became subservient to Europeans. Later, immigrants were brought to Mauritius mainly as indentured workers and slaves to boost and further European economic and political dominance