Read Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture by Gaiutra Bahadur Free Online
Book Title: Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture|
The author of the book: Gaiutra Bahadur
Edition: University Of Chicago Press
Date of issue: October 30th 2013
ISBN 13: 9780226034423
Loaded: 2881 times
Reader ratings: 3.9
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 4.98 MB
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In 1903, a young woman sailed from India to Guiana as a “coolie”—the British name for indentured laborers who replaced the newly emancipated slaves on sugar plantations all around the world. Pregnant and traveling alone, this woman, like so many coolies, disappeared into history. In Coolie Woman—shortlisted for the 2014 Orwell Prize—her great-granddaughter Gaiutra Bahadur embarks on a journey into the past to find her. Traversing three continents and trawling through countless colonial archives, Bahadur excavates not only her great-grandmother’s story but also the repressed history of some quarter of a million other coolie women, shining a light on their complex lives.
Shunned by society, and sometimes in mortal danger, many coolie women were either runaways, widows, or outcasts. Many of them left husbands and families behind to migrate alone in epic sea voyages—traumatic “middle passages”—only to face a life of hard labor, dismal living conditions, and, especially, sexual exploitation. As Bahadur explains, however, it is precisely their sexuality that makes coolie women stand out as figures in history. Greatly outnumbered by men, they were able to use sex with their overseers to gain various advantages, an act that often incited fatal retaliations from coolie men and sometimes larger uprisings of laborers against their overlords. Complex and unpredictable, sex was nevertheless a powerful tool.
Examining this and many other facets of these remarkable women’s lives, Coolie Woman is a meditation on survival, a gripping story of a double diaspora—from India to the West Indies in one century, Guyana to the United States in the next—that is at once a search for one’s roots and an exploration of gender and power, peril and opportunity.
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Read information about the authorGaiutra Bahadur is an American journalist and book critic who writes frequently about the culture and politics of global migration. Her reporting, criticism and essays have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Washington Post Book World, The Nation, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The (London) Observer and Ms., among other publications.
A former daily newspaper reporter, she has reported on topics and topographies ranging from politics in Texas to the war in Iraq, post-Sept. 11 hate crimes to Hinjew weddings, Austin’s high-tech immigrants to Arizona’s nativists. Gaiutra 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 with her family when she was six.
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