Memory Work at African Shrines in Kochi, India
This chapter discusses how memories of African communities in the port city of Kochi in the South-Indian state of Kerala are generated and preserved through shrines dedicated to the spirits of deceased Africans, locally known as Kappiri. Based on an analysis of memory practices surrounding such shrines, this chapter argues that memories of enslaved Africans in Kochi are conserved through rituals and beliefs directed towards Kappiri. While the histories of colonialism and of forced African migration to seaports on the Indian Coast are often eclipsed from institutional discourses, the memory work of contemporary Afro-Indian communities is active through worship of an afflicted African spirit who guides, heals, and bestows his benevolence to those who recall his burdened collective histories.
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