Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture by Gaiutra Bahadur is published by C Hurst and Co priced £ It is available from the Guardian. In , a young woman sailed from India to Guiana as a “coolie”—the British name for indentured laborers who replaced the newly emancipated slaves on. Coolie Woman. The Odyssey of Indenture. Gaiutra Bahadur. SHORTLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE ‘A genealogical page-turner interwoven with a.

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But it also shows that in that messy complexity there is, then as now, resilience, innovation, renewal and courage. The stories are both poignant and horrific: Ethnic and Racial Studies. With fewer rhetorical questions, this could have read as a more serious historical text rather than as a cathartic diary of sorts. Quotes from Coolie Woman: This spellbinding account of a story that needed to be told is highly recommended.

Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture, Bahadur

The book is a perfect, powerful illustration of what it means to think historically—about gender, about culture, and about our strange world of migrant inrenture. It brought alive for me that part of history which is not talked about very much in a most interesting way. Initially the book begins as a nostalgic recount of journey of Ms. The book is a biography of Sujaria, the great-grandmother of the author [3] and simultaneously an exploration of the indentured labor system, which was practiced in the Caribbean.

Nearby, dock workers loaded casks of sugar, rum and molasses and unloaded endless ice from America for coping with the heat. Dec 03, Maia Ellis rated it really liked it.

How could I write about women whose very existence the official sources barely acknowledged? The narrative is a multi-layered exploration of exile, colonialism, gender dynamics in a world of mercilessly skewed gender ratios, the ensuing jealousies and violence against women spoiled for choice of sexual partners and the forging of a new community identity shaped in equal parts by what has been left behind, the terrors of the long ocean passage and the simultaneous deprivations and freedoms of the Cooolie World.


Kudos to the writer for having done an outstanding job at bringing to life the heart wrenching doyssey of the coolies. To see what cooile friends thought of this book, please sign up. Oct 11, Janice Sheufelt rated it it was ok Shelves: University of Chicago Press: Greatly indenturf 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.

The Journal of Imperial and Coolke History.

The desire, particularly for woman, to seek exile from their existing social predicaments- yet only to endure another form inventure s A work of remarkable excavation, shedding light on the history of indenture- not only as a system, but its impact on diaspora identity too. Aug 24, arafat rated it it was amazing Shelves: Loading comments… Trouble loading?

Carter, Marina 1 January Disruptive Acts Mary Louise Roberts. She is the author of Coolie Woman: Those who wish to find romantic myths in the past to power deeply conservative ideas about the present, and the role of women in an imagined future, will find little to work with here. Show 25 25 50 All. Coolie Woman is, as such, a speculative history. However it also highlighted the unsavory behavior of the indentured servants dare I lndenture them “coolies”?

What an amazing work, deeply researched and interestingly told. Nov 11, Chet Pagoda tbe it it was amazing. Thanks for telling us about the problem.

The amount of painstaking effort, patience and perseverance that must have gone into writing this book are mind boggling. Guyana from the inednture laborers imported there by the Brits, but at a deeper level, its about the immigrants angst, the forging of a sense of identity and the insightful clarity obtained when finally clear of the miasma-inducing haze.


Open Preview See a Problem? It was an incredibly engrossing and wonderful historical piece. In spite of her family’s story being based in Guiana, and my personal story in Jamaica, the parallels of origin were fascinating.

What is commendable about this book is the research done by the author in the quest for tracing her roots.

Coolie Woman

Was hoping for a more personal story or more of the author’s personal family experiences. Nieman Foundation for Journalism.

Oct 15, Reema rated it it was amazing Shelves: Archived from the original on 24 June I would like to add that her inndenture voice, as I put it above, took nothing away from her story telling ability or the books hold on me.

Between andthe death rate on ships to Guiana was 8. Sadly, it seems Bahadur is left with more questions than answers following her undoubtedly exhausting journey her research took her not only to the difficult terrains of the West Indies and India, but London and most surprisingly the Scottish highlands. Interesting topic, but read more like a compilation of research articles rather than a cohesive work.

Bahadur-speaking at the South Asia Literature Festival- was asked why the book was written as a form of narrative history rather than fiction.

However as the book continued, the scope expanded.