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Research Article

A Comparative Analysis of Two Failed Indenture Experiences in Post-emancipation Caribbean: British Guiana (1838-1843) and Danish St. Croix (1863–1868)

Author:

Lomarsh Roopnarine

Latin American and Caribbean History at Jackson State University, Mississippi, USA, US
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Abstract

El siguiente artículo analiza dos experimentos fallidos de introducir trabajadores contratados de la India en Guyana Británica (1838–1843) y St. Croix danesa (1863–1868). En ambas colonias caribeñas, los estancieros se apresuraron a substituir la pérdida de la mano de obra de esclavos africanos con unos cientos de trabajadores contratados de la India. La intención era de salvar la industria azucarera, sin embargo no se daban los mecanismos apropiados como para hacer funcionar propiamente el sistema de labor por contrato. Por ende, los trabajadores fueron maltratados en cada uno de las etapas de servidumbre por contrato. En concreto, los trabajadores de la India fueron maltratados durante la contratación, durante la travesía de la India al Caribe, y en las haciendas. Los estancieros intentaron, particularmente en Guyana Británica, de esconder el maltrato de los trabajadores. No obstante, inspecciones individuales e indagaciones por parte de grupos como Friends of India y the Anti-Slavery Society, además de relatos de los mismos trabajadores expusieron los males de labor por contrato en ambas colonias. Después de los primeros cinco años de trabajo por contrato, la corona británica y el gobierno colonial de la India detuvieron el transporte de trabajadores de la India a ambas colonias. En Guyana Británica, si no en St. Croix danesa, el sistema de labor por contrato fue restablecido en 1845.

English:

The following article analyzes two failed Indian indenture experiments in British Guiana (1838–1843) and Danish St. Croix (1863–1868). In both Caribbean colonies, the planters rushed to substitute the loss of indentured Indians. While the plan was to save the sugar industry from ruin, the right mechanisms were not in place for the proper functioning of the indentured labour system. Consequently, the labourers were mistreated at every stage of indentured servitude. Specifically, Indians were mistreated during recruitment, on the sea voyage from India to the Caribbean, and on the plantations. The planters tried, particularly in British Guiana, to conceal the mistreatment of the labourers. However, private inspection and investigation from interest groups such as Friends of India, the Anti-Slavery Society, and accounts from the labourers themselves exposed the evils of indenture in both colonies. The British Crown and the colonized Indian government subsequently stopped the shipping of Indian labourers to both colonies after the first five-year experiment with indenture. The contract labour system was eventually resumed in British Guiana in 1845 but not in Danish St. Croix.

How to Cite: Roopnarine, L., (2013). A Comparative Analysis of Two Failed Indenture Experiences in Post-emancipation Caribbean: British Guiana (1838-1843) and Danish St. Croix (1863–1868). Iberoamericana – Nordic Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies. 42(1-2), pp.203–230. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16993/ibero.40
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Published on 01 Feb 2013.
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