Anglo-Indians in Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond

This post continues our series on public anthropology in Aotearoa New Zealand. This week we profile Robyn Andrews and her work with Anglo-Indians.

Massey University's Dr Robyn Andrews has carried out research with a minority Indian community, the Anglo-Indians, since 2000. Anglo-Indians are officially defined (in the 1950 Indian Constitution) as people of mixed European and Indian ancestry whose heritage is traced to a European - usually British - father and Indian mother. Culturally, Anglo-Indians tend to be more ‘English’ than ‘Indian' as they speak English as their first language and are Christian (mostly Catholic).

Robyn Andrews reading from her book, Christmas in Calcutta: Anglo-Indian Stories and Essays, at its launch at Calcutta's Oxford Bookstore in December 2013.

Robyn Andrews reading from her book, Christmas in Calcutta: Anglo-Indian Stories and Essays, at its launch at Calcutta's Oxford Bookstore in December 2013.

Robyn's areas of focus have included ethnographic studies of the Anglo-Indian community in India and the diaspora, a collaborative survey of the community in West Bengal, Anglo-India-specific rest homes, and the place of religion in their lives. The rest home research resulted in her advocating in her publications for culturally specific end of life residential care.

In 2013 Robyn began a collaborative study on the experiences of Anglo-Indians living in small townships in India. Her latest research focuses on New Zealand's 'invisible' Anglo-Indians. Anglo-Indians have been coming to New Zealand since as early as the 1860s but up until now there has been little scholarly attention paid to this community. Funded by the Asia New Zealand Foundation, Robyn aims to build a more complete picture of Anglo-Indians in New Zealand.

Robyn has made her collaborative surveys accessible through social media and sets up research pages to post updates, reports and photos of all recent projects. Her latest project sees Robyn arranging get-togethers for Anglo-Indians around New Zealand in response to their sense of social isolation. She hopes this will lead to some infrastructure being put in place for members of this community in order for them to connect with each other easily. For more information about this project (including details about the get-togethers), check out her Facebook page or listen to her September 2015 interview on Radio New Zealand.

Robyn Andrews (centre) with a New Zealand contingent at the 10th World Anglo-Indian Reunion in Sydney in January 2016. Photo: Robyn Andrews via Anglo-Indians in New Zealand Facebook page

Robyn Andrews (centre) with a New Zealand contingent at the 10th World Anglo-Indian Reunion in Sydney in January 2016. Photo: Robyn Andrews via Anglo-Indians in New Zealand Facebook page