Reinventing Caste: Indian Diaspora in Amitav Ghosh’s <i>Sea of Poppies <i>


  • Omendra Kumar Singh, Govt. (P.G.) College, Rajasthan, India


Profoundly engaged in capturing the outward flow of plantation diaspora from India in the nineteenth century, Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies (2008) focuses on one female girmitiya named Deeti, a high caste widow from Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh, who elopes with an untouchable. Taking cue from the pages of Sir George Grierson’s diary, Ghosh recovers Deeti from history, not so much with the imagination of a novelist as with the instincts of an anthropologist. Devoted to reinvention, the novel tackles the loss of  Deeti’s caste, its contested status in the migratory experience and its final recovery as a  thematic concern. Though the traditional caste hierarchy was practically lost in the  migratory process, I argue, it continued to exist in alternative form and only waited to be found in time. I also argue that the old Indian diaspora’s sentimental search for their ancestral roots in India is played out in the novel with the suggestion that their search may reveal some uncomfortable truth they would not like to know. 



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Author Biography

Omendra Kumar Singh, Govt. (P.G.) College, Rajasthan, India

Dr. Omendra Kumar Singh is Associate Professor of English at Govt. (P.G.) College, Dausa, Rajasthan, India. He has authored D.H. Lawrence: Prophet of New Life and Art and published scholarly articles in such journals as South Asian Review, Journal of Contemporary Thought, JSL and Littcrit. Dr. Singh presented his paper, “From Chai House to Kurma House International: Dialectic of the Other in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Queen of Dreams,†at the 2011 MLA convention in Los Angeles, USA.




How to Cite

Singh, Govt. (P.G.) College, Rajasthan, India, O. K. (2012). Reinventing Caste: Indian Diaspora in Amitav Ghosh’s &lt;i&gt;Sea of Poppies &lt;i&gt;. Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, 6(1), 47–62. Retrieved from