Indigeneity in Mauritius, Réunion and Seychelles: Legacies of Métissage and Colonial Rule
The word "indigenous" continues to evoke discussion and scholarship throughout the ages as a highly culturally and politically loaded term that has gained global importance. The Islands of Mauritius, Réunion and the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean are fascinating examples of the changing uses of the notion of “indigeneity” because although there are no known “indigenous people” that resided on the land, there is still a distinct hierarchy of privilege that continues to reinforce colonial ideals of indigeneity onto those of Creole or African backgrounds. How do Creole peoples view themselves? Do they see Creole identities as “more indigenous” than Indian or White settlers? How does their relationship to a complex Métissage (mixed heritage) relate to global discourse of indigeneity? In this paper, I plan to use the above island nations to explore notions of indigeneity in a global context and to understand how many residents define themselves within this framework. I argue that the indigenous-settler binary is deeply rooted in colonial discourses and that it has not simply disappeared but evolved through the legacy of Creole people (Métissage) and the complex relationship that they have with France, their former colonizer.