Maharani's Misery: Narratives of a Passage from India to the Caribbean

Maharani's Misery: Narratives of a Passage from India to the Caribbean

Maharani's Misery: Narratives of a Passage from India to the Caribbean

Maharani's Misery: Narratives of a Passage from India to the Caribbean

Synopsis

Following the abolition of slavery in the Caribbean, a concerted effort was made to replace enslaved labor with indentured Indian labor, and this book recounts the story of one woman's tragic experience in trying to immigrate to the Caribbean in the nineteenth century.

The book combines documentary evidence with a surrounding narrative interpretation in order to highlight the experiences of the young Indian woman, Maharani, who was allegedly raped and died subsequently on board the ship Allanshaw that sailed from Calcutta to colonial Guyana in 1885. The work sheds light on the general history of bonded labor migration as well as "sexploitation."

Maharani's death gave rise to an extraordinary nine-day investigation involving some twenty-two witnesses, including some of the emigrants themselves. By making use of the emigrants' depositions, the book projects the voice of the indentured servants from India on their long voyage to the Caribbean. The events on this passage from India provide further evidence that 19th-century labor "migration" replicated several aspects of the middle passage of enslaved Africans, although it never reached slavery's brutal limits.

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