Ro(u)ted By Our Stories is an intergenerational oral history archive dedicated to capturing, preserving and sharing the stories of the Indo-Caribbean diaspora's silenced voices. This archive works to center the stories of womxn and gender expansive folx at various intersections of identity including but not limited to those who identify as LGBTQIA+, mixed-race, Muslim, and/or working class. It is a living, growing archive of stories from communities who have inherited the legacies of indenture, rooted in histories and traditions of oral storytelling. In the tradition of Indo-Caribbean feminist thinkers and inspired by the work of diasporic writers like Paul Gilroy, we are inspired to document our heritage (“roots”) but also our migration stories (“routes”)
Historically, stories about the lives of Indo-Caribbean people have focused on the experiences of cisgender, heterosexual men from upper-class backgrounds, while others have been silenced and rarely seen as valuable to our historical knowledge. With this archive, we are challenging normative ideas about whose memories are deemed "worthy" of being remembered. We are committed to an ongoing process of reflection in order to not produce new forms of erasure.
We hope this archive can serve as a resource for those who do not have access to the stories of people who are like them. We also hope to bring people to the archive who want to learn about the lives of Indo-Caribbean women and gender expansive folks to find meaningful connections between our histories.
We have thought a lot about our ethical commitments to the people who have shared their stories with us, and realize that some stories are not ready to be shared publicly and might never be. As you navigate the site, you will see that we have expectations about how we want our listeners and readers to interact with the oral histories--with empathy, care, and respect for the knowledge each of us carries about our lives. These stories are from a particular place, at a particular moment in time; our stories are always changing and evolving.
Our logo was intentionally designed as a mangrove tree to symbolize the connections between the many places our diaspora has taken us. Mangroves exist on the Indian subcontinent, throughout the Caribbean, and in North America. Like our communities, their roots are interconnected to support each other and their seed pods drop off their trees and travel to places they can thrive. The logo was created and designed by Indo-Caribbean artist and graphic designer, Noella Deonarain.
In the first phase of this project, we partnered with Jahajee Sisters, a movement-building organization in New York led by Indo-Caribbean womxn and gender expansive folx, to train community members in methods of capturing oral histories and record oral history interviews of one another. These interviews form the foundation of the archive, but it is just the beginning of our work to honor and preserve the stories of underrepresented folx in our communities. Thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers, we've built this incredible working archive for all to enjoy and learn from. To learn more about our team, click here.
Online access to Routed By Our Stories’s oral history collection is made possible through support from Jahajee Sisters and the Graduate Center, City University of New York.