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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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‘Slaves of the Soil’: Caste and Agricultural Slavery in South India

‘Slaves of the Soil’: Caste and Agricultural Slavery in South India

(p.189) 6 ‘Slaves of the Soil’: Caste and Agricultural Slavery in South India
Slavery, Abolitionism and Empire in India, 1772-1843
Liverpool University Press

In 1811, nine children were found to be working at the Randaterra plantation set up by the East India Company in Anjarakandy, South India. The Anjarakandy episode has important implications for the EIC's labour policy and attitudes to social and agrarian relations in South India. This chapter suggests that the EIC and its representatives exploited and distorted local customs in order to utilise agricultural labour for their own interest. Using the debate over slavery at Anjarakandy, it explores colonial conceptions of caste within South Indian agricultural relations and how colonial officials provided a point of reference against which coercive colonial labour systems such as indenture could be constructed as ‘free’. The chapter also examines the suppression of slavery at a time of stable revenue collection and an emerging plantation economy that demanded a reliable labour supply.

Keywords:   South India, slavery, plantation economy, Anjarakandy, East India Company, agricultural labour, caste, indenture, revenue, labour supply

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