'With Eyes of Wonder': Colonial Writing on Indentured East Indians in British Guiana, 1838-1917

Maria Kaladeen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis is an analysis of colonial writing, as colonial discourse, on indentured East Indians in British Guiana between 1838-1917. Its themes are resistance, creolisation and cultural diversity. I will show that throughout indenture, colonial writing on East Indians in British Guiana formed as substantial a part of resistance to the system of indenture as did the actions of the indentured East Indians themselves. I will further demonstrate that textual creolisation occurred in the way in which colonists became influenced by the emerging culture of colonial Guyana. The primary sources for this thesis include Colonial Office records, Parliamentary Papers, works of literature and missionaries’ correspondence.
I endeavour to provide a contrast to recent studies on indenture in British Guiana by looking at the combined role of Europeans and East Indians in the reformation and termination of the system. My work is a deliberate move away from historical studies of the Indian-Guyanese that isolate them from the colony’s other ethnic groups, attempting to place them in the historical context of all the ethnic groups who resisted colonisation in Guyana. Due to the relative novelty of Indian-Caribbean studies, the role in indenture of minority groups such as the South Indian ‘Madrasis’, Muslims and tribal North Indians or ‘Hill Coolies’ has been largely ignored. Where relevant, using historical evidence, this thesis will address the role of these groups in resisting indenture and colonialism.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Livesey, Ruth, Supervisor
Award date1 Aug 2013
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013


  • indentured East Indians
  • British Empire
  • British Guiana
  • indenture
  • imperialism
  • Guyana
  • Guyanese literature
  • Victorians and colonialism
  • British Missionaries in the Caribbean
  • Wesleyans in British Guiana
  • Indian diaspora
  • Caribbean Studies
  • indentured labour
  • John Edward Jenkins
  • H.V.P Bronkhurst
  • H.J Shirley
  • Salvation Army in British Guiana
  • Congregationalists in British Guiana
  • colonial press in British Guiana
  • sugar and unfree labour
  • East Indian women under indenture
  • Bechu - indentured Indian in British Guiana
  • resistance to indenture in British Guiana
  • The Anti-Slavery Society and British Guiana
  • creolisation
  • Tadjah
  • Muslims in British Guiana
  • A.R.F Webber and British Guiana
  • Comins' Report British Guiana
  • Commissions of Inquiry in British Guiana, 1838-1917
  • Indian opposition to indentured labour
  • Kala Pani
  • slavery and indenture

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