Textual Subjects in Motion: Letters, Literature and Print Medium in an Indian-South African Exchange (1928-1946)

Meg Samuelson


This article traces an epistolary exchange between South Africa and India that was animated by the circulation of print media and literary texts. The exchange – between the South African archivist, poet and social historian MK Jeffreys and the Indian statesmen and scholars VS Srinivasa Sastri and P Kodanda Rao – is read as forming part of a larger web of personal and political relations and textual traffic that contributed to the production of Indian Ocean public spheres. Through engagement with this particular case study, the article seeks to contribute to the scholarly turn from explorations of relations between ‘centre’ and ‘periphery’ or along a North-South axis toward elaborating those engaging South-South connections within the Indian Ocean arena.


Indian Ocean textual traffic; transnational print culture; MK Jeffreys; P Kodanda Rao; VS Sastri; Rabindranath Tagore; Rudyard Kipling

Full Text



Anderson, B. 1983, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Verso, London.

Boehmer, E. 2002, Empire, the National, and the Postcolonial, 1890-1920. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Bose, S. 2006, A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Dhupelia-Mesthrie, U. 2003, 'The Significance of Indian Opinion.' Address to Conference on the Alternative Media to Commemorate the Centenary of the Founding of Indian Opinion, 4 June, Durban. Online, available: http://www.sahistory.org.za/pages/artsmediaculture/arts/media/indian-opinion.htm (Accessed 25 January 2009).

Dhupelia-Mesthrie, U. 2007, 'The Place of India in South African History: Academic Scholarship, Past, Present and Future, ' South African Historical Journal, vol. 57: 12-34. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02582470709464707

Frost, M. 2002, 'Wider Opportunities": Religious Revival, Nationalist Awakening and the Global Dimension in Colombo, 1870-1920, ' Modern Asian Studies, vol. 36, no. 4: 93767." http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0026749X02004067

Gandhi, Leela 2006, Affective Communities: Anti-Colonial Thought, Fin-de-Sicle Radicalism, and the Politics of Friendship. Duke University Press, Durham, NC.

Gandhi, Mahatma (M.K.) 1935 [19271928], Young India 19271928. S. Ganesan, Madras.

Gandhi, Mahatma (M.K.). 2007 [19271929], The Story of My Experiments with Truth: An Autobiography. Trans. M. Desai. Penguin, London.

Jagadisan, J.N., (ed.) 1963 [1944], Letters of the Right Honourable V.S. Srinivasa Sastri. Asia Publishing House, Bombay.

Jagadisan, J.N., (ed.). 1969, V.S. Srinivasa Sastri. Builders of Modern India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, Nasik.

Jeffreys, M.K. 1931, Summer Rain: The Songs of Hamsi. Cape Town: Citadel Press.

Jeffreys, M.K. 1934, Sea-Foam: The Songs of Hamsi. Cape Town: Nasionale Pers.

Hofmeyr, I. 2007, 'The Black Atlantic Meets the Indian Ocean: Forging New Paradigms of Transnationalism for the Global SouthLiterary and Cultural Perspectives, ' Social Dynamics, vol. 33, no. 2: 132. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02533950708628759

Hofmeyr, I. 2008, 'Indian Ocean Lives and Letters, ' English in Africa, vol. 35, no. 1: 923.

'How White Are the Whites? What I learned about My Own Ancestry' 1960, Drum, February.

Kipling, R. 1965 [1901], Kim. Macmillan, London.

Mesthrie, U. S. 1987, From Sastri to Deshmukh: A Study of the Role of the Government of India's Representatives in South Africa, 1927 to 1946. Unpublished PhD. thesis, Dept. of History, University of Natal.

Metcalf, T.R. 2007, Imperial Connections: India in the Indian Ocean Arena, 18601920. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Nandy, A. 1998 [1994], The Illegitimacy of Nationalism: Rabindranath Tagore and the Politics of Self. Oxford University Press, New Delhi.

'Nobel Prize in Literature Winners, 2008-1901, ' No date. Nobel Prize Internet Archive. Online, available: http://almaz.com/nobel/literature (Accessed 25 January 2009).

Nuttall, S. 2009, Entanglement: Literary and Cultural Reflections on Post-apartheid. Wits University Press, Johannesburg.

Odhiambo, T. 2006, 'Inventing Africa in the 20th Century: Cultural Imagination and Transnationalism in Drum Magazine, ' African Studies, vol. 65, no. 2: 15774. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00020180601035625

Rao, P.K. 1939, East versus West: A Denial of Contrast. Allen & Unwin, London.

Rao, P.K. 1946, Cultural Conflicts: Cause and Cure. Padmaja Publications, Baroda.

Rao, P.K. c.1961, The Question of National Integration. Institute of Politics and Social Studies, Calcutta.

Rao, P.K. c. 1963, The Right Honourable V.S. Srinivasa Sastri: A Political Biography. Asia Publishing House, New York.

Rao, P.K. c. 1973, Foreign Friends of India's Freedom. PTI Book Company, Bangalore/Madras.

Said, E.W. 1994, Culture and Imperialism. Vintage, New York.

Samuelson, M. 2007, 'Re-imagining South Africa via a Passage to India: M.K. Jeffreys' Archive of the Indian Ocean World, ' Social Dynamics, vol. 33, no. 2: 6185. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02533950708628761

Samuelson, M. 2008, 'A Community of Letters on the Indian Ocean Rim: Friendship, Fraternity and (Af)filial Love, ' English in Africa, vol. 31, no. 5: 2743.

Samuelson, M. 2010, 'Oceanic Charades: The Female Figures of M. K. Jeffreys's Passage to India, ' in Eyes Across the Water: Navigating the Indian Ocean, (eds) I. Hofmeyr, P. Gupta & M. Pearson, Unisa Press, Pretoria, 258270.

Samuelson, M. 2011 'Orienting the Cape: A White" Woman Writing Islam in South Africa, ' Social Dynamics, vol. 37, no. 3: 36378."

Tagore, R. n.d. [1909], Gora. Translator unknown (1924). N.p.: Kessinger's Rare Reprints.

Tagore, R. 1962 [1914], 'Chitra, ' in Collected Poems and Plays of Rabindranath Tagore. Macmillan, London, 14973.

Tagore, R. 1993 [1938], 'Africa, ' in Selected Poems, (ed.) William Radice, Penguin, London, 1023.

Thapar, R. 1999, Sakuntala: Texts, Readings, Histories. Kali for Women, New Delhi.

Tincker, H. 1976, Separate and Unequal: India and the Indians in the British Commonwealth. Vikas Publishing House, Delhi.

Ward, K. 2009, Networks of Empire: Forced Migration in the Dutch East India Company. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

'Where Do Coloureds Come From?' 1959, Drum, August.

Ya, O.B.J. 2008, 'Africa, African Diaspora and the Prospect of Global Cultural Exchange, ' lecture presented at India International Centre in Delhi, Mainstream vol. 46, no. 47. Online, available: http://www.mainstreamweekly.net/article1031.html (Accessed 3 January 2011).

Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM