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Lecture by Priya Ange
26 AVRIL 17
Kinship-bonds and Nation-building : the case of the French flag ring of the "Franco-Pondicherrians"

A lecture in English at the Centre's library at 4 pm on Wednesday, April 26, by Priya Ange, doctoral student in Social Anthropology at the EHESS, Paris, and beneficiary of an EFEO scholarship.

A short while after the Treaty of Cession came into effect in 1962, many Pondicherrian families were divided administratively and politically. Within the same kinship networks some stayed French by exercising their "option" to keep French nationality; others did not go to the French Consulate to declare themselves as French and unwittingly became Indian. Fifty-five years later, how are the kinship patterns of relationships within those families? Being interested in the jewellery of the "Franco-Pondicherrians", I am discovering how jewels circulate and are used on both sides of the divide. One specific jewel embodies those kinship issues: the French flag ring. Its study raises questions about cultural and political belonging in contemporary Pondicherry.

In this lecture, I will explain the context of the socio-political and material production of this ring. Then I will present its usages and representations in the families who stayed French. I will finish with the "imaginaire" that this ring activates in families who became Indian and who are nowadays trying to be "re-attached" to France. With the study of the French flag ring, I propose to examine cultural, political, emotional and fictive "attachments" to France and India that, in the case of the "Franco-Pondicherrians", take the shape of a cultural "bonding" to India and a political "belonging" to France. Kinship background here contributes to build a fictive Nation, entrenched simultaneously on French and Indian soil, thus calling into question what such a sense of belonging means.