n Africa Insight - 'The bad Baniani sports good shoes' : 'Asian' stereotypes and the problem of modernity in East Africa

Volume 35, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-2804


From the mid-nineteenth century when they began to assume a central role in the running of commercial activity on the East African seaboard, East Africans of South Asian origin have been the subject of stereotypes that have sought either to condemn or justify that role. Such stereotypes have been a tool through which social actors have attempted to come to terms with rapid changes in society; indeed, stereotypes have provided a vent for popular anxieties about modernity. By examining a range of sources, including contemporary popular music, historical texts, novels, and travelogues, this article traces the evolution of such stereotypes, and examines the role that they have served in the articulation of various social interests in a rapidly-changing society.

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