Chagos Islanders in Mauritius and the UK

Forced displacement and onward migration

By Laura Jeffery

Chagos Islanders in Mauritius and the UK


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  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9382-5
  • Pages: 176
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £18.99
  • Published Date: April 2016
  • BIC Category: Sociology, Migration, immigration & emigration, POLITICAL SCIENCE / World / Asian, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Emigration & Immigration, South Indian Ocean Islands, Society & social sciences / Migration, immigration & emigration
  • Series: New Ethnographies


The Chagos islanders were forcibly uprooted from the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean between 1965 and 1973. This is the first book to compare the experiences of displaced Chagos islanders in Mauritius with the experiences of those Chagossians who have moved to the UK since 2002. It thus provides a unique ethnographic comparative study of forced displacement and onward migration within the living memory of one community.

Based on in-depth ethnographic fieldwork in Mauritius and Crawley (West Sussex), the six chapters explore Chagossians' challenging lives in Mauritius, the mobilisation of the community, reformulations of the homeland, the politics of culture in exile, onward migration to Crawley, and attempts to make a home in successive locations. Jeffery illuminates how displaced people romanticise their homeland through an exploration of changing representations of the Chagos Archipelago in song lyrics. Offering further ethnographic insights into the politics of culture, she shows how Chagossians in exile engage with contrasting conceptions of culture ranging from expectations of continuity and authenticity to enactments of change, loss and revival.

The book will appeal particularly to social scientists specialising in the fields of migration studies, the anthropology of displacement, political and legal anthropology, African studies, Indian Ocean studies, and the anthropology of Britain, as well as to readers interested in the Chagossian case study.


"Jeffery's 'Chagos Islanders in Mauritius and the UK' provides a detailed empirical study of Chagossian communities in Mauritius... and the UK"

"Going far beyond providing a 'thick' description of Chagossian communities, Jeffery uses her data to respond to critical questions in the literature on displacement and migration. In particular, she provides a rich justification for the view that forced displacement and voluntary migration should be regarded as analytically distinct, and as impacting differently upon affected populations."

"Jeffery's central conclusions are clearly articulated and convincingly integrated into the extant literature, to which the uninitiated reader is seamlessly introduced and becomes more familiar."

"Jeffery's findings will interest those with a substantive interest in migration and forced displacement, while her research design will prove instructive to anyone using ethnographic methods.", Peter Harris, University of Texas, African Affairs, 1 December 2012|The book is highly accessible and manages well to break down the complex entanglements of the Chagossians' struggle within Mauritius and with the UK legal system., Patrick Neveling, University of Bern (Switzerland), European Association of Social Anthropologists, 2013


Note to readers
Introduction: Forced displacement and onward migration
Part : Marginalisation and mobilisation
1. Marginalisation in Mauritius
2. Mobilisation in exile
Part II Narrating homeland, displacement, suffering, and loss
3. Singing the homeland
4. The politics of culture in exile
Part III Onward migration
5. Echoes of marginalisation in Crawley
6. Making home in exile
Postscript. Legal and environmental barriers to resettlement


Laura Jeffery is Lecturer in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh.

Chagos Islanders in Mauritius and the UK

By Laura Jeffery

Paperback £18.99 / $27.95

Hardcover £85.00 / $130.00

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