by Margaret Allen
While the story of Indian indentured labour in the sugar colonies has been seen as irrelevant to Australian history, this chapter draws upon the family histories of people whose ancestors left India to work as indentured labourers in sugar plantations in various British and French colonies. It follows their movements until they settled in Australia late in the nineteenth century, before the passing of the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901.
Their stories challenge the assumed whiteness of Australian history and provide a rare and detailed account of the remigration and global mobility of former indentured workers and their families. In exploring the agency, in particular of two women indentured to the colonies, it sketches the rather permeable and imprecise boundary between agency and coercion.
Available now through Oxford University Press, Indians and the Antipodes includes Margaret Allen’s chapter ‘Circuitous Routes: Journeys from India to Australia by Way of the Sugar Colonies’