October 2014 \ Cover Story \ Cover Story—Indians in France
Souvenirs des Indes—Cultural association about Indian immigration in France

We can read on their banner few Indian names in reference to the ancestors of the members of this association created this year in Paris by few families from Guadeloupe.

Souvenirs de Indes’ main objective is to celebrate the Indian emigrants who travelled from India to work in the French colonies. They plan to organize a yearly event in India and they started last August in Pondicherry. Another objective is to create awareness in France.

“When you check French history books, there is nothing about this immigration”, says Medarline Moutou, “and it’s the same when you read about the History of Guadeloupe, it’s difficult to accept it, especially when you know how our ancestors struggled to fulfill their contract and help the Guadeloupean economy. We have to change this”.

There are also few members who joined this lobby without having Indian lineage.

“Guadeloupe is a mixed society with people coming mainly from Europe, Africa, India and Lebanon. Indians brought us many things that have been integrated in our common culture, “says Anna Mylène, “I joined Souvenirs des Indes for this reason but also because there is a positive attitude. No victimization, no cultural communalism, my friends are just doing their best to pay a tribute to their ancestors.”

Souvenirs des Indes is not only focused on the past. In order to transmit their “Indianness” to the next generation, people have to reconnect with Indian culture: language, cooking, art. Hopefully, the diaspora in Paris is large, multi-talented and eager to share its knowledge.