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Slavery, Abolitionism and Empire in India, 1772-1843$
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Andrea Major

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781846317583

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846317255

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date: 21 November 2017

‘To Call a Slave a Slave’: Recovering Indian Slavery1

‘To Call a Slave a Slave’: Recovering Indian Slavery1

Chapter:
(p.18) 1 ‘To Call a Slave a Slave’: Recovering Indian Slavery1
Source:
Slavery, Abolitionism and Empire in India, 1772-1843
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/UPO9781846317255.004

Slavery in India has been omitted from both late-eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century discourse and from more recent historiographies of slavery and abolition. This can be attributed to the diverse experiences of Indian slavery and its significant regional, social, and circumstantial variations, along with the difficulties in applying well-worn definitions of slavery to the South Asian context. The histories of slaves were often written not only by Indian chroniclers and record keepers, but also by the colonial state. Indian forms of slavery involved complex relationships of dependence and obligation, which explains why they did not conform to the plantation model of transatlantic plantation slavery. Indian slavery was also not representative of the innocuous social institutions that some officials of the East India Company claimed. It could involve many of the material features that were not in accord with abolitionists' ideological notions about the human right to individual freedom and control over person, family, and labour.

Keywords:   India, slavery, abolition, Britain, East India Company, freedom, South Asia

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