Current Research Projects
• Oral Data Access Policy and Human Remains Policy
Since 2009 the CRSI has been involve din devising an access policy for the protection of oral data, One workshop was held jointly with the Truth and Justice Commission, Data Protection Office and several institutions involved in oral history collection. At CRSI the person responsible for finalisation of an Oral Data Access and Protection Policy is Sophie Lechartier.
• Completion of Volume 2 Select Guide to Materials on Slavery Col 4 Archives Nationales d’Outre-Mer (ANOM)
A Select Guide to the C4 Collection found at the ANOM was started under the auspices of the Truth and Justice Commission. Research Assistants were Stephanie Tamby, Yola Argot Nayekoo and Sharon Philips. Volume 1 was produced going up to 1767. The CRSI continued this work of the TJC and Vol 2 is in preparation. Rafael Thiebaut was appointed Research Assistant.
• Slavery in Rodrigues
Joel Edouard completed in BA Dissertation on Slavery in Rodrigues. To date it is the only work devoted specifically to slavery on the island. Research continues.
• Maritime Maroonage
Annelise Levasseur completed a BA dissertation on maritime maroonage. Her revised dissertation will be published in 2017. Transcription of maroonage court records continues with the help of Kalairasee Canagasaby who also completed her dissertation on the use of court records in the study of maroonage.
• Slave Trade and Indentured Immigration Database
A Slave Trade and Indentured Immigration Database was begun in 2009 with the assistance of the group of the University of Mauritius and research assistants. In 2016, the CRSI secured funding from the European Union to train young researchers in database management. CRSI hopes to launch the Database in 2020. Ship arrival data is being collected from numerous repositories in Mauritius and France and includes not only ships undertaking long distance voyages but also “petit cabotage’ from one island to another. We hope to have a complete list of ships arriving and leaving Mauritius between 1721 and 1810.
• Historical and Archaeological Survey of Moulin à Poudre
An intensive historical and archaeological survey of the Moulin a Poudre complex was begun in 2015 with funding being obtained from the University of Mauritius ad the Mauritius Research Council. The Moulin a Poudre is a unique 18th century industrial site that produced hundreds of thousands of pounds of gunpowder during its existence for use on the Anglo-French wars in the Indian Ocean, in the slave trade, on board ships and was also sold locally.
• Analysis of Maroon artefacts, Le Morne region and socio-historical study of the southwest Mauritius
CRSI has taken up the continuation of the Maroon Cave Investigation project with the assistance of the Le Morne Heritage Trust Fund. Artefacts collected in the UoM/NHF Cave investigation Project in 2002-2003 are being analysed and new sites being documented that will in future help to create a Maroon Heritage Trail. Between 2014 and 2015, the archaeological team was led by Assoc Prof. George Abungu with archaeologists Jayshree Mungur-Medhi and Geoffrey Summers; research assistants Anabelle Agathe, Jean Francoise Lafleur and others. Reports are available for consultation at CRSI. The socio-historical study undertaken by Sophie Lechartier and Vijaya Teelock focussed on collection of historical data on the region and compilation of family history information to attempt understand, using oral history, internal migration, occupational distribution and socio-economic mobility, particularly of descendants of slaves and persons of Afro-Malagasy origin. This project is on-going.
• English version of 2011 Conference Proceedings on Slave Trade
This publication is under preparation.
• Origins Project: Mozambique
This project conceptualised by Vijaya Teelock in 1997 and initially funded by the Mauritius Research Council, was managed and continued by the Nelson Mandela Centre for African Culture. Its aim was to locate the origins (geographical and cultural origins of the population of Malagasy and Mozambican slave descent). While both Centres have managed to accumulate much data on local family histories and genealogies to help families create their genealogical tree, the African roots and geographical origin are still not known. In 2017, the Origins Project is being revived, partly with assistance from the University of Mauritius and the European Union. Field work in Mozambique is planned as well as an intensive archival for additional sources in Portugal, France and the UK.
• Bassin des Esclaves
For many years the CRSI and other institutions have campaigned for the Bassin des Esclaves to become a National Heritage site. But there have been vociferous voices against this demand and claims that there is no evidence that it was a “Bassin des Esclaves”. A study is being undertaken to provide fresh justification for listing this site. Maurna Soodhin-Runghen is currently undertaking a mapping exercise of the whole area combining historical maps and archival information.
• From Indenture to VRS
Indian labour Immigration ended in the 1920s. Since, the descendants of indentured labourers maintained a strong attachment to the sugar plantation economy, as labourers, small planters and managers, even though the memory of plantation work is not that rosy. This attachment was gradually broken when the sugar mills closed down, mechanisation was introduced and a “Voluntary Retirement Scheme” imposed. At the recommendation of the then Chairperson, an Oral History Collection Project was started by the Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund in 2008 and several hundred interviews collected. This collection focussed on the transition to VRS being experienced by descendants, The projects is being continued by the CRSI with the aim of documenting this process of disengagement from the sugar industry, the industry that brought their ancestors to Mauritius in the first place.
• Indenture in the 1880s
Although mush historical work has been undertaken on indenture, much of it focuses on the period up to 1870s. Although there were only some 25,000 labourers still under indentured contract in the 1880s, their history has not been researched. Urvanee Dookhorun is beginning research on this group.
• Origins of Indian indentured labourers
In Mauritius today, research has been focussed on the cultural heritage of four categories of immigrants: those originating from the Bihar/UP belt (Bhojpuri speaking), Andhra Pradesh and Telengana (commonly referred to in Mauritius as Telugu-speaking), Madras (Tamil-speaking) and Maharashtra (Marathi speaking). Very little attention is paid to those immigrants originating from Assam, Nepal, Orissa or Tribal groups. Researcher Pooja Ramchurn-Jokoo has embarked for some years now on the process of documenting these arrivals and locate any descendants.
• History of the Mozambican Liberated Africans in Mauritius 1856-1910
The history of Liberated Africans in Mauritius was another of these unknown histories. Satyendra Peerthum has been researching this group since 2007 as member of AGTF and CRSI. In particular he is examining social history and experiences of the 2,365 Mozambican Liberated Africans during the Age of Indenture in Mauritius between 1856 and 1910. He has worked on their arrival, their ethnic origins, scarification/tattoo marks, demographics, social and economic mobility, and even traced some descendants. The issues of social identity and social trauma and their aftermath are being explored. Their photos are being collected as well as their bio-data being recorded. The mobility of more than 220 Liberated African men and women as landowners and entrepreneurs is being documented. They form a unique and important segment within the indentured labour population between the 1850s and early 1900s. The sites linked to them are being researched to create a future heritage trail.