Representations and Misrepresentations of the Colonial South Asian Diaspora

Crispin Bates*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Whilst the study of race and migration is a vibrant and fast developing field, existing works on the Indian Diaspora have tended to homogenize the lives of migrant labourers, ignoring the vast diversity in experiences over space and time. Misrepresentations produced as part of a polarized nineteenth-century debate for and against indenture have persisted, however, despite the fact that they arguably tell authors more about the subjectivity of the colonial observer than of the subaltern migrant. The study of subaltern networks and individual agency has been crucial within the work of the ‘Becoming Coolies’ research project on Indian Ocean labour migration. In most attempts to generalize about the indenture system, it is depicted as a purely exploitative political economic structure: designed to take the maximum amount of work for the minimum amount of wages from the lowest sections of society.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Indian Diaspora
Subtitle of host publicationCharting New Frontiers
EditorsBrinsley Samaroo, Primnath Gooptar, Kumar Mahabir
PublisherTaylor and Francis Inc.
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9781000507119
ISBN (Print)9781032158808
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


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