Edinburgh Research Explorer

‘For Mauritians, joy; for Chagossians, sadness’: Mauritian independence, the sacrifice of the Chagos Archipelago, and the suffering of the Chagos islanders

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Mauritian Paradox
Subtitle of host publicationFifty years of development, diversity and democracy
EditorsRamola Ramtohul, Thomas Hylland Eriksen
Place of PublicationReduit
PublisherUniversity of Mauritius Press
ISBN (Print)9789990373486
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2018


The Chagos Archipelago was administered from colonial Mauritius until 1965, when the UK government excised the Chagos Archipelago to form part of the British Indian Ocean Territory. Fifty years after independence, the decolonisation of Mauritius remains incomplete. By 1973, the population of the Chagos Archipelago was uprooted and relocated to Mauritius and Seychelles during a time of ethnic tensions, high unemployment, and housing shortages in the decades around independence. This chapter interrogates the implications of the excision of the Chagos Archipelago and the displacement of the Chagos islanders for relations between the Mauritian state and the generationally extended and geographically dispersed Chagossian community. Firstly, it highlights Chagossian experiences of marginalisation and their consequent critiques of the Mauritian nation-building project. Secondly, it reveals similarities in their critiques of the various prospects for return and governance either within the Republic of Mauritius, or as a controversial British Overseas Territory, or via co-management. Thirdly, it concludes with a plea for the incorporation of diverse Chagossian perspectives in the development of compelling objectives and strategies for the ongoing process of decolonisation.

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