Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 August 2018
This is a review article of four new books on plantation histories of Asia which offer a sophisticated analysis of the configurations of liberal imperialism, colonial capitalism, and the construction of post-colonial nationalism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The works discussed here are Rana Behal's A hundred years of servitude (2014); Jayeeta Sharma's Empire's garden (2011); Ulbe Bosma's The sugar plantation in India and Indonesia (2013); and Kumari Jayawardena and Rachel Kurian's Class, patriarchy and ethnicity on Sri Lankan plantations (2015).
1 Major works on Asian indenture include Kondapi, C., Indians overseas, 1838–1949 (New Delhi: Indian Council of World Affairs, 1951)Google Scholar; Tinker, Hugh, A new system of slavery (London: Oxford University Press, 1974)Google Scholar; Northrup, David, Indentured labour in the age of imperialism, 1834–1922 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995)Google Scholar; Carter, Marina, Voices from indenture (New York: Leicester University Press, 1996)Google Scholar; Kale, Madhavi, Fragments of empire: capital, slavery, and Indian indentured labour migration in the British Caribbean (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998)Google Scholar; Mohapatra, Prabhu, Longing and belonging: the dilemma of return among Indian immigrants in the West Indies, 1850–1950 (Delhi: Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, 1998)Google Scholar.
4 Stoler, Ann Laura, Capitalism and confrontation in Sumatra's plantation belt, 1870–1979 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985)Google Scholar; Breman, Jan, Taming the coolie beast: plantation society and the colonial order in Southeast Asia (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1989)Google Scholar; Daniel, E. Valentine, Bernstein, Henry, and Brass, Tom (eds), Plantations, proletarians, and peasants in colonial Asia (London: Cass, 1992)Google Scholar; Gupta, Ranajit Das, Labour and working class in eastern India: studies in colonial history (Calcutta: K. P. Bagchi & Co., 1994)Google Scholar; and Peebles, Patrick, The plantation Tamils of Ceylon (London: Leicester University Press, 2001)Google Scholar.
5 Best, Lloyd and Polanyi-Levitt, Kari, Essays on the theory of plantation economy: a historical and institutional approach to Caribbean economic development (Kingston: University of West Indies Press, 2009)Google Scholar; Beckford, George, Persistent poverty: underdevelopment in plantation economies of the Third World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973)Google Scholar; Patterson, Orlando, The sociology of slavery: an analysis of the origins, development and structure of Negro slave society in Jamaica (London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1967)Google Scholar; Dunn, Richard, Sugar and slaves: the rise of the planter class in the English West Indies, 1624–1713 (New York: Norton, 1973)Google Scholar; Mintz, Sweetness and power; Schwartz, Stuart, Sugar plantations in the formation of Brazilian society: Bahia, 1550–1835 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985)Google Scholar; and Reddock, Rhoda, Women, labour & politics in Trinidad & Tobago: a history (London: Zed Books, 1994)Google Scholar.
6 Beckford, Persistent poverty.
7 This ‘world-systems’ perspective is associated with the work of Wallerstein, Immanuel, The modern world-system (New York: Academic Press, 1974), pp. 148–68Google Scholar. But Joseph Inikori's scholarship clarified the driving role of so-called ‘peripheries’, and of the labour of diasporic African peoples in generating profits for the so-called European ‘core’ of the world economy. See Inikori, Joseph, Africans and the Industrial Revolution in England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 362–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
8 Marx, Karl, The poverty of philosophy: a reply to M. Proudhon's Philosophy of poverty (New York: International Publishers, 1973Google Scholar).
10 Bose, Sugata, Agrarian Bengal: economy, social structure, and politics, 1919–1947 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986)Google Scholar; Chatterjee, Partha, Bengal, 1920–1947 (Calcutta: CSSS, 1984)Google Scholar; Guha, Ranajit, Elementary aspects of peasant insurgency in colonial India (Delhi: Oxford, 1983)Google Scholar.
11 Sanyal, Kalyan, Rethinking capitalist development: primitive accumulation, governmentality and postcolonial capitalism (New Delhi: Routledge, 2014)Google Scholar.
12 Behal, Rana, A hundred years of servitude (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014)Google Scholar.
13 Breman, Taming the coolie beast, p. 45.
14 Behal, A hundred years of servitude, p. 3.
31 Sharma, Empire's garden, p. 209.
33 Chatterjee's imaginative approach combines personal reflection, scholarly inquiry, and artistic voice in the study of gendered labour practices on Assam tea plantations. See Chatterjee, A time for tea.
34 Bosma, Ulbe, The sugar plantation in India and Indonesia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. See also these important new works on circulations of technique, biota, and science: Kumar, Prakash, Indigo plantations and science in colonial India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Curry-Machado, Jonathan, Global histories, imperial commodities, local interactions (Houndsmill: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
36 Bosma, The sugar plantation, p. 16.
37 Margaret Gillikin, ‘Saint Dominguan refugees in Charleston, South Carolina, 1791–1822: assimilation and accommodation in a slave society’, PhD thesis, University of South Carolina, 2014.
38 Bosma, The sugar plantation, p. 21.
42 Ludden, David, ‘Spatial inequity and national territory: remapping 1905 in Bengal and Assam’, Modern Asian Studies 45 (2011), pp. 1–43Google Scholar.
43 Jayawardena, Kumari and Kurian, Rachel, Class, patriarchy and ethnicity on Sri Lankan plantations (Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2015)Google Scholar.
44 Williams, Eric, Slavery and capitalism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1944)Google Scholar.
46 Sanyal, Rethinking capitalist development, pp. 254–62.
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