Friday, June 29, 2007

Coolies -- How Britain Re-Invented Slavery

On, the BBC has itself posted a complete one-hour documentary, exposing the 19th-century British practice of Indentured Labour, through which more than 1 million Indian workers were transported all over the world -- only to be told there was no provision to return. They were effectively only slightly better off than the African slave laborers they were brought in to replace. The latter had been emancipated in 1833, when the British government decided to end slavery and the slave trade throughout the Empire.

The documentary is brought to you by... who else? The BBC!

Some of the speakers include Brij Lal, an Indo-Fijian who now teaches in Australia, and David Dabydeen, an Indo-Guyanan novelist who now teaches in Warwick, UK. I've watched about 25 minutes of it so far, and it seems to be pretty well designed -- some historical overview, but not too much. Most of the focus is on the descendents of Indian indentured laborers, who are now trying to work out the implications of their history.

Incidentally, it looks like this video can be downloaded for free to your PC -- in case you're going to be sitting in a train or an airport for an hour sometime this weekend, and wanted a little "light" entertainment. (You will also need to download Google's Video Player application.)

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Anonymous Mark Thwaite said...

Thanks for this link Amardeep -- appreciate it. Looks like an excellent video.

3:10 AM  
Blogger Trini Desi said...

Thanks for this link. Looking forward to viewing it...

12:15 AM  
Anonymous kali billi said...

This video brought me to tears. So many parallels to African slaves. So many countries around the world today gained their economic power off the backs of indentured laborers and it continues on to this very day (Indians, Filipinos, and Africans in the Middle East working for peanuts building skyscrapers and such with no representation such as a union). So sad. I applaud the professor for searching his roots so thoroughly.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A wonderful piece.Thanks for providing the link.

1:34 AM  
Blogger Vivek Kumar said...

Many thanks for sharing this..

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Marks Enterprise said...

I watched the video. Thanks! "There would be no slaves if there is no one who wants to be one." If you're interested I know some ways on how to make money online. Please Check it out.

10:33 AM  
Blogger Anil P said...

I wonder what they would make of the thought of returning 'home' to India.

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Buddha said...

oh killer video!!


10:48 AM  
Blogger Shima said...

I have to say thank you so much for this site and video. I was not aware of any of this as a indo-fiji woman this is great info.I have to say well worth watching.

3:04 AM  

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