Archive for October 29th, 2011

A list for Sanjay Persaud: some suggested readings on the Indian indenture

October 29, 2011 in Uncategorized | Comments (8)



Dear Sanjay Persaud,

You may remember that we had a brief talk after my reading at ‘Politics and Prose‘ in Washington DC on Sept 27 (that was when I took this picture). Earlier, during the Q&A, you had introduced yourself as a Guyanese of Indian descent who had grown up in the US.


You confessed, rather disarmingly, that you had never read any of my books but said that you were curious about your Indian roots and would be glad if I could recommend some  readings on the history of the indentured migration from India. At the time the only recommendation I could think of was Rahul Bhattacharya’s excellent travelogue The Sly Company of People Who Care (see my blog post of Sept 6).









But I did not forget your request (nor indeed were you the first to pose this question to me). Over the last few weeks, I’ve been jotting down some suggestions for you. The list has grown longer than I had expected but please note that it is not, by any means, intended to be exhaustive. There are many glaring omissions – no fiction for example, and very little on South Africa and South-East Asia. But keeping all that in mind, I hope it will be of some use to you and those who share your interests.

Unfortunately I’ve lost your email address: I am posting the list here in the hope that it will reach you somehow.

With my best wishes


Amitav Ghosh




Anderson, Clare: Convicts and Coolies: Rethinking Indentured Labour in the Nineteenth Century, Slavery and Abolition, Vol 30/1, 93-109, 2009.

Archer, W.G. & Sankta Prasad: Bhojpuri Village Songs, Jrnl of Bihar and Orissa Research Soc., pp. 1-48, 1942.

Archer, W.G.: Songs for the Bride: Wedding Rites of Rural India, ed. B. Stoler Miller & Milfred Archer, Columbia Univ. Press, New York, 1985.

Arya, U.: Ritual Songs and Folksongs of the Hindus of Surinam, E.J.Brill, Leiden, 1968.

Bhana, Surendra (ed.): Essays on Indentured Indians in Natal, Peepal Tree, Leeds, 1991

Bissoondoyal, Basdeo: The Truth about Mauritius, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay, 1968.

Bissoondoyal, U: Promises to Keep, Wiley Eastern, New Delhi, 1990.

Bissoondoyal U.& S.B.C. Servansing (eds.): Indian Labour Immigration, Mahatma Gandhi Instt., Moka, Mauritius, 1986.

Bissoondoyal U. & S.B.C. Servansing (eds.): Slavery in South West Indian Ocean, Mahatma Gandhi Instt., Moka, Mauritius, 1989.

Boodhoo, Sarita: Bhojpuri Traditions in Mauritius, Mauritius Bhojpuri Instt., Port Louis.

Brenneis, Don & Ram Padarath: About those Scoundrels I’ll let Everyone Know: Challenge Singing in a Fiji Indian Community, Jrnl of American Folklore, 88: pp. 283-291, 1975.

Brown, Laurence & Radica Mahase: Medical Encounters on the Kala Pani: Regulation and Resistance in the Passages of Indentured Indian Migrants, 1834-1900.

Carter, Marina: The Transition from Apprenticeship to Indentured Labour in Mauritius, Slavery and Abolition, 14: 1, 1993.

Carter, Marina: Voices from Indenture: Experience of Indian Migrants in the British Empire, Leicester University Press, Leicester, 1996.

Carter, Marina: Servants, Sirdars and Settlers: Indians in Mauritius 1834-1874, OUP, Delhi 1995.

Carter, Marina: Voices from Indenture: Experiences of Indian Migrants in the British Empire, Leicester University Press, London, 1996.

Carter, Marina: Lakshmi’s Legacy: The Testimonies of Indian Women in 19th Century Mauritius, Editions de l’Ocean Indien, Mauritius, 1996.

Carter, Marina (ed.): Across the Kalapani: The Bihari Presence in Mauritius, Centre for Research on Indian Ocean Societies, Port Louis, 1999.

Carter, Marina & Khal Torabully: Coolitude: An Anthology of the Indian Labour Diaspora, Anthem Press, London, 2002.

Dabydeen, David: Coolie Odyssey, 1988.

Deerpalsingh, Saloni & Marina Carter: Select Documents on Indian Immigration, Mauritius, 1834-1926 (Vol II: The Despatch and Allocation of Indentured Labour), Mahatma Gandhi Institute, Moka, 1996.

Dookhan, I: The Gladstone Experiment: The Experiences of the First Indian Immigrants to Guyana, 1838-43, Revista Interamericana VI, 1976-7.

Ewald, Janet J.: Crossers of the Sea: Slaves, Freedmen and other Migrants in the Northwestern Indian Ocean c. 1750-1914, American Historical Review, Vol 105/1, pp. 69-91, 2000.

Gillion, K.: Sources of Indian Emigration to Fiji, Population Studies X: 139-57, 1956.

Gillion, K.: The Fiji Indians: Challenge to European Dominance, 1920-1946, ANU, Canberra, 1977.

Grierson, G.: Report on Colonial Emigration from the Bengal Presidency, 1883.

Holden, Edgar: A Voyage in the Coolie Trade, Gloucester Ma, 1865.

Hollingworth, Derek: They Came to Mauritius. Portraits of the 18th and 19th centuries, OUP, Nairobi, 1965.

Journal of a Voyage with Coolie Emigrants from Calcutta to Trinidad, by Captain and Mrs. Swinton, ed. James Carlile, London, 1859.

Kelly, John D.: A Politics of Virtue: Hinduism, Sexuality and Countercolonial Discourse in Fiji, Chicago, 1991.

Kelly, John D. (et al): My Twenty One Years in the Fiji Islands and the Story of the Haunted Line by Totaram Sanadhya, Suva Museum, Canberra, 1991.

Lal, B.V.: Fiji Yatra: Aadhi Raat Se Aage, National Book Trust, New Delhi, 2005.

Lal, B.V. (ed.): Bitter Sweet: The Indo-Fijian Experience, Pandanus Books, Australian National University, Canberra, 2004.*

Lal, B.V.: Girmitiyas: The Origins of Fiji Indians, Canberra, 1983 (Reprint, (Lautoka: Fiji Institute of Applied Science, 2004.)*

Lal, B.V.: On the Other side of Midnight: A Fijian Journey, National Book Trust, New Delhi, 2003.

Lal, B.V.: Mr. Tulsi’s Store: A Fijian Journey, Pandanus Books, Australian National University,  Canberra: 2001.

Lal, B.V.: Chalo Jahaji: On a Journey Through Indenture in Fiji, Fiji Museum, Suva, 2000.

Lal, B.V.: Broken Waves: A History of the Fiji Islands in the 20th Century, Honolulu, 1992.

Lal, B.V.:  Approaches to the Study of Indian Indentured Emigration with Special Reference to Fiji, Journal of Pacific History, XV, Nos. 1-2, 1980.

Mishra, Vijay: Rama’s Banishment, A Centenary Tribute to the Fiji Indians 1879-1979, Heinemann, London, 1979.

Mohapatra, P.P.: “Following Custom”? Representations of Community among Indian Immigrants Labour in the West Indies, 1880-1920, International Review of Social History, 51 Supplement, pp. 173-202, 2006.

Mohapatra, P.P.: Regulating Informality: Legal Construction of Labour Relations in Colonial India, in Sabyasachi Bhattacharya et al, Workers in the Informal Sector Studies in Labour History 1800-2000, Macmillan, Delhi: 2001.

Mohapatra, P.P.: Longing and Belonging: The dilemma of return among Indian Immigrants in the West Indies 1850-1950, International Institute Asian studies, 134-155, 1995.

Mohapatra, P.P.:  Coolies and Colliers: A Study of the Agrarian context of Labour Migration from Chotanagpur, 1880-1920, Study in History, 1: 2, 1985.

Myers, Helen: Music of Hindu Trinidad: Songs from the Indian Diaspora, Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1998.

Omvedt, Gail: Migration in Colonial India: The articulation of Feudalism and Capitalism by the Colonial state, Journal of Peasant Studies, 1979-80.

Satyanarayana, A.: Birds of Passage: Migration of South Indian Labour to South East Asia, Critical Asian Studies, 34: 1, 89-115.

Saunders, K. (ed.): Indentured Labour in the British Empire, 1834-1920, London, 1984.

Scoble, J: Hill Coolies: A Brief Exposure of the Deplorable Conditions of the Hill Coolies in British Guiana and Mauritius and of the Nefarious Means by Which they Were induced to Resort to These Colonies, London, 1840.

Subramani (ed.) Dauka Puraan (in Fiji Hindi) Star Publication, New Delhi, 2001.

Subramani (ed.): The Indo-Fijian Experience, University of Queensland Press, St. Lucia, 1979.

Teelock, Vijaya: A select guide to sources on slavery in Mauritius; And, Slaves speak out : the testimony of slaves in the era of sugar, African Cultural Centre, 1995.

Teelock, Vijaya: Bitter sugar: Sugar and slavery in 19th century Mauritius, Mahatma Gandhi Instt., 1998.

Teelock, Vijaya: Mauritian History: From its Beginning to Modern Times, Mahatma Gandhi Instt, 2001.

Tinker, Hugh: The Banyan Tree: Overseas Emigrants from Indian, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1977.

Tinker, Hugh: A New System of Slavery: The Export of Indian Labour Overseas 1830-1920, London, 1974.

Tinker, Hugh: Leadership without a Name: The Emergence of Estate Leaders among Indentured Labourers Overseas, Paper, School of Oriental and African Studies, Dec. 7, 1972.

Totaram Sanadhya: Fijidwip me Mere Ikkis Varsh, Pt. Banarasi Das Chaturvedi, Varanasi, 1972.

Totaram Sanadhya: Bhoot Len Ki Katha: Totaram Sanadhya Ka Fiji (ed. Brij V. Lal), Saraswati press, New Delhi, 1994.

Unnuth, Abhimanyu: A Portrait of Professor Basdeo Bissoondoyal, Edns de Océan Indien, Mauritius, 1988.

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