Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture

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9781849046602: Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture
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In 1903 a Brahmin woman sailed from India to Guyana as a 'coolie', the name the British gave to the million indentured labourers they recruited for sugar plantations worldwide after slavery ended. A century later, her great-granddaughter and American journalist Gaiutra Bahadur pursues traces of her great-grandmother over three continents. She also excavates the repressed history of some quarter of a million female coolies. Disparaged as fallen, many were runaways, widows or outcasts, and many migrated alone. Coolie Woman chronicles their epic passage from Calcutta to the Caribbean, from departures akin either to kidnap or escape, through sea voyages rife with sexploitation, to new worlds where women were in short supply. When they exercised the power this gave them, some fell victim to the machete, in brutal attacks, often fatal, by men whom they spurned. Sex with overseers both empowered and imperiled other women, in equal measure. It also precipitated uprisings, as a struggle between Indian men and their women intersected with one between coolies and their overlords.

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Review:

'Gaiutra Bahadur has produced an intricate, thoroughly researched and beautifully written book that evokes the experience of emigrant Indians and their descendants.' --Times Literary Supplement

'Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture is a genealogical page-turner interwoven with a compelling, radical history of empire told from the perspective of indentured women. The collective voice of the jehaji behen (ship sisters) has been barely audible across the centuries, until now ... Bahadur grants us rare imaginative access to the odyssey through the experience of women's stories she finds in the archives.' --The Guardian

'In her remarkable book, Gaiutra Bahadur chronicles the extraordinary but neglected saga of indentured labour that evolved when the British began to replace slavery on their sugar plantations worldwide. But the book is more than this: it is also a highly personal account that traces the history of the author's maternal line to the present day. As Bahadur clambers down the generations, she provides the reader with a meticulous and lushly detailed family memoir. ...This is a fascinating story, which will have resonance for millions of others who are swept up and transformed by history and have to find a new way to create 'home'.' --Literary Review

From the Author:

Gaiutra Bahadur is an award-winning reporter and book critic. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The Observer and The Nation, among other publications. She studied literature at Yale and journalism at Columbia, and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard. She was born in Guyana and emigrated to the United States as a child.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780226034423: Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0226034429 ISBN 13:  9780226034423
Publisher: University of Chicago Press, 2013
Hardcover

9781849042772: Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture

C Hurs..., 2013
Hardcover

9789350096352: Coolie Woman

Hardcover

9789350099902: Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture

Hachet..., 2015
Softcover

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Book Description C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd, United Kingdom, 2016. Paperback. Condition: New. UK ed. Language: English. Brand new Book. *** Shortlisted for the Orwell Prize*** In 1903 a Brahmin woman sailed from India to Guyana as a 'coolie', the name the British gave to the million indentured labourers they recruited for sugar plantations worldwide after slavery ended. The woman, who claimed no husband, was pregnant and travelling alone. A century later, her great-granddaughter embarks on a journey into the past, hoping to solve a mystery: what made her leave her country? And had she also left behind a man? Gaiutra Bahadur, an American journalist, pursues traces of her great-grandmother over three continents. She also excavates the repressed history of some quarter of a million female coolies. Disparaged as fallen, many were runaways, widows or outcasts, and many migrated alone. Coolie Woman chronicles their epic passage from Calcutta to the Caribbean, from departures akin either to kidnap or escape, through sea voyages rife with sexploitation, to new worlds where women were in short supply. When they exercised the power this gave them, some fell victim to the machete, in brutal attacks, often fatal, by men whom they spurned. Sex with overseers both empowered and imperiled other women, in equal measure.It also precipitated uprisings, as a struggle between Indian men and their women intersected with one between coolies and their overlords. Seller Inventory # AA79781849046602

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