Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

3 - How to Constitute a Gendered Reading of the Kala Pani?

Saturday, July 7
12:10 PM - 1:40 PM
Location: Maple, Lower Ground Floor

The patterns of emergence of indentured servitude in the 19th century within global capitalism has been widely debated in regards to both the economic, and socio-political factors that necessitated the end of slavery, and the living conditions of the indentured servitude which generated the new manners of control in the post-emancipation period. However, these works have not adequately addressed the role of indentured women servants, and thus has not provided ample tools for the conceptualization of gender. My paper addresses the active role that Indian indentured women took on and their undeniable existence in the British colonies as plantation laborers. I will be looking at the experiences of Indian indentured women starting by their journey in the ships heading towards different British Empire colonies such as Trinidad, Tobago, Mauritius, British Guiana, Jamaica, and Fiji. I will discuss the usage of colonial discourse, the increase of female population in the colonies after the 1850s, and the motif behind policy change to encourage family formation and to control family labor. I argue that the indentured servitude could have been maintained through the policies that discursively, and bodily controlled, suppressed, exploited, and violated the female indentured laborers. In conclusion, this project by closely examining the experiences of Indian indentured women sheds new light on the rarely acknowledged issue of the role of women in the plantation production process and them becoming a field to implement manner of control that indentured servitude has generated in the post-emancipation period in the patriarchal settlement.  

Nilufer Akalin

State University of New York (SUNY) Binghamton, United States

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