I found a very interesting article that nicely links our class discussion of indentureship and colonialism and our new focus on coolies. The article, “Link emancipation to indentureship and reparations” by Dr. Vishnu Bisram was found on www.carribeanlifenews.com and features writings that reference the heinous existence of indentureship. One reading Dr. Bisram mentioned I found particularly captivating. “Not slaves—coolies. Have you not heard it said that when God closes one door he opens another? When the doors of freedom were closed to the African, the Lord opened them to a tribe that was yet more needful of it—the Asiatick.” (taken from Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies (2008)). I find myself wondering how it is that something as fundamental as freedom can be defined for others. The levels of freedom were disputed between slaves and indentured servants. As referenced in Rajkumari Singh’s, I am a Coolie, the definition of the term ‘coolie’ is also disputed between being negative connotation for a menial labor worker and hardworking, resilient people of Indian or Chinese descent who emigrated to foreign lands. In the PowerPoint presentation on coolies that was shown last class, it was made evident that keeping up appearances of fair labor directly impacted the portrayal of the institution of indentureship. As long as inconsistency remains between the system of slavery and indentureship, the image of the two will be misconstrued, and terms like ‘coolie’ will be misused.
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