Volume 2, Number 1 (2011)
The Dougla in Trinidad's Consciousness
Douglas, the offspring of Indo-African unions, occupy an ambiguous position in Trinidadian society. Etymologically, the word Dougla is linked to dogla which is of Indic origin and is defined by Platts (1884,534) as a person of impure breed, a hybrid, a mongrel; a two-faced or deceitful person and a hypocrite. In Bihar, Northern India, from where many Indian indentured labourers migrated to Trinidad, dogla still carries the meaning of a person of impure breed related specifically to the progeny of inter-varnai marriage, acquiring the connotation of bastard , meaning illegitimate son of a prostitute, only in a secondary sense (Reddock 1994,101). We do not know how and when the term Dougla became equated to the offspring of Indian-African unions in Trinidad but we may surmise that it originated in traditional Indian contempt for the darker-skinned (Brereton 1974, 24).