Chalo Jahaji - on a journey through indenture in Fiji
by Brij V. Lal, 2000
The Fiji Museum Suva
Division of Pacific & Asian History, The Australian
The book will be available for download
by end of April 2004 from Fiji
Institute of Applied Studies. Here we kindly place two
excerpts from this book.
Of Journeys and Transformations:
Brij V. Lal and the Study of Girmit
Leaving aside the questions of
exploitation, racism, and the institutional aspects of
indenture, I think that the indenture experience is a very
important, formative and defining period in the history of
overseas Indian communities ... because that is the site of
the initial social transformation. It is fundamental.
Brij Lal is best known among Pacific historians for his writings on the
contemporary history of Fiji and as a member of the
three-man Fiji Constitution Review Commission, whose report
forms the basis of that country's recently promulgated
books on the subject include an analysis of the Fiji coups,
a political history of twentieth century Fiji, a biography
of the great Fiji Indian leader A.D. Patel and an account of
constitutionalism in post-coup Fiji.
The other major strand in Lal's repertoire, for which he is
perhaps less well known in the Pacific but for which he
enjoys a substantial reputation internationally,
is the Indo-Fijian indenture experience. It is a
magnificent subject. Between 1836 and 1916, over 1.3 million
indentured Indians travelled to places as far apart as Natal
and Trinidad; this diaspora constitutes the largest segment
of a trade in indentured labourers that stemmed from the
abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1834.
Fiji was caught up in this process and received
60,945 individuals between 1879 and 1916 (as against some
27,000 imported Pacific Islanders).
It is well to put these figures into perspective. The
preponderance of Indian labourers in Fiji reflects the
numerical dominance of Indian indentured labour world-wide.
Conversely, the fact that Indians to Fiji constituted such a
small proportion of the overall Indian total reflects the
extent to which the Pacific generally was a small and
insignificant segment of the global trade in indentured
Nevertheless, those 60,945 Indians to Fiji are an
appreciable total and worthy of study in their own right.
Lal has contributed significantly to this
field. In the twenty-one years from 1978, when he published
his first paper, he has written or edited four books and
published no fewer than 16 articles and chapters on the
subject. This constitutes an appreciable corpus of scholarly
work and at the time was a consuming interest. But one's
life moves on and Lal wishes to draw down the curtain on
this particular interest. Nevertheless, it has been the
stepping stone to a highly successful career in university
and public life. He has been the recipient of numerous
academic and civic honours. There was the award of a 25th
Anniversary of Fiji Independence Medal in recognition of his
'distinguished contribution to education in Fiji'; his
election as Fellow of the Australian Humanities Academy in
1996; the appointment to the Fiji Constitution Review
Commission that same year; and two years later the award of
Officer of the Order of Fiji and promotion to full Professor
in the Institute of Advanced Studies
at The Australian National University. More recently,
Anthony Low, the distinguished historian of South Asia, has
dedicated his latest book to his former graduate students
(or his 'Sepoys', as he calls them) and names Lal as a
member of the 3rd (Canberra) Regiment along with Imran Ali,
Stephen Henningham, Andrew Major and Dipesh Chakrabarty.
To do all this before the age of fifty is no mean
achievement, but it is especially so for the grandson of a
girmitiya (indentured labourer) who grew up on the ten acre
family farm at Tabia village, on the fringes of the Labasa
sugar district of Fiji, where the only interesting reading
material and about the only contact with the outside world
were week-old copies of the Fiji
Times and Shanti Dut.
Brij Lal and I first met in 1979, as graduate students, in the Records
Room of the then Department of Pacific and Southeast Asian
History at the Australian National University (ANU). His PhD
on the origins and social background of the Fiji Indians
involved a computerised analysis and the use of folklore in
addition to conventional historical sources. I was told in
somewhat awed tones that he was single-mindedly eating his
way inch by inch through the microfilm version of the 45,000
or so Emigration Passes of the north Indian indentured
workers to Fiji. He was, in the estimation of fellow
students, more than usually capable and industrious. He
almost lived in the National Library of Australia at this
time and I hardly saw anything of him.
This was not a particularly happy time in the
life of the Department of Pacific and Southeast Asian
History at ANU. Such was the students' disenchantment that
they organised their own seminar series, from which staff
were excluded. I say 'they' because I was one of them only
in the sense that I happened to be living in Canberra; I was
enrolled at Macquarie University in Sydney. But I attended
those fortnightly seminars on Thursday afternoons and
generally enjoyed the intellectual companionship of people
as diverse as Penny Gregory, Judy Bennett, Geoff Cummins,
Kilifoti Etuati (from the Department of Pacific and
Southeast Asian History), Greg Fry (from the Department of
Political Science in The Faculties), Trish Mercer (from the
Department of History in The Faculties) and John Nation
(from the Department of Social and Political Change). I gave
a seminar presentation, and then came the day when Lal gave
a delivery on his own work. He spoke off the cuff with
fluency, ease and authority that concealed effort,
explaining what he was doing and what he hoped to achieve.
He was in the early stages of an academic journey—the
study of the Fiji Indians. It has been a continuing voyage
but the ship is now at port. Lal does not intend to write
much more on the indenture experience.
To change the metaphor (and Lal is an avid cricket
fan), he has had a fine innings. But now is the time to
declare and hence the occasion to put together a selection
of his essays on the origins and plantation experience of
Lal likes to use the term 'journeys and transformations' to denote phases
of one's life and experiences, and how these necessarily
inform and often define one's academic work. At one level it
seems only natural and proper that the grandson of a
girmitiya, who was fascinated by surviving girmitiyas who
swapped yarns each evening under a mango tree, should write
about that group. As a child, Lal was very close to his
grandfather, who told him about his life in India, the
reasons for coming to Fiji and what happened after that. So
there were early indications that Lal had a sense of the
past. In practice, however, it was not so easy for the
village kid to go to university, much less to become a
professional historian. The limited mental horizons and a
general lack of opportunity were the main impediments. But
there was a certain will to beat the odds. Lal came from an
improving rural farming family that was intent on upward
social and economic mobility—although hardly for the older
generation given that Lal's parents were unlettered. But
their children were another matter: 'always in the back of
their minds', Lal told me, 'was the memory of indenture—
the poverty, the petty humiliations—and my parents did not
want to see their children go through a similar experience'.
Thrift and education were seen as the means to breaking a
cycle of not-very-genteel quasi-poverty, especially when
there was no hope that the land could provide a future for
all six boys. Then there was his older brother Ben, about
whose untimely death he has written here,
who gladly made the necessary personal sacrifices for
his younger siblings. Lal was also lucky in his teachers at
Labasa Secondary School, to whom he acknowledges an enormous
debt in expanding his mental horizons by introducing him to
good literature and giving him a solid grounding for his
future academic work.
The award of a Canadian Third Country
Scholarship enabled him to enrol at the University of the
South Pacific (USP) in 1971. His initial plan was to become
a high school English teacher, but a mandatory course in
transformational grammar deterred him from pursuing his
'romantic interest in the novels of the Bronte sisters, [so]
he switched to history, a decision he has not often
The changeover to history seemed to suit him and as a final
year undergraduate he won the Te Rangi Hiroa Award for the
best essay in Pacific history by a USP student for that
year. The award of a Graduate Fellowship took Lal to the
University of British Columbia where he studied modern
Chinese history but wrote a Masters thesis on Sikhs in
and won the John and Annie Southcott Memorial Prize for the
outstanding graduating student in history.
Returning to USP in 1976 as a junior lecturer
in History/Politics, Lal realised that he wanted to be an
academic and to enjoy a life of the mind, as they say. He
had already started to publish,
but an academic career required further postgraduate work so
he applied for a Research Scholarship at the ANU. There is
an untold story of his getting placed at ANU and finding a
suitable dissertation topic. His initial intention was to
work on a topic of a demographic nature. He sent a copy of
his Masters thesis and an accompanying letter of inquiry to
the only scholar he knew of at ANU, the demographer Charles
Price, who had just published a book on racial exclusion.
Price considered that Lal's lack of mathematics precluded
work in demography, so he forwarded the letter and thesis to
Wang Gungwu, the Director of the Research School of Pacific
Studies. The paperwork then did the rounds and landed on the
table of Robin Jeffery, the head of the South Asian section
(and now Professor of Politics at La Trobe University). The
ANU seems to have been in something of a quandary. Here was
an able student from the region who clearly had to be given
a scholarship. But in what section should he be placed and
who would be the supervisor? The Vice-Chancellor, Anthony
Low, thought it important to bring Lal to Canberra, but
could not take full responsibility for Lal's supervision
because he already had four PhD students (his 'Sepoys').
Another ANU academic to enter the picture was Ken Gillion,
the historian of Indo-Fijian indenture,
who was about to go to Fiji for further research. Lal by
that time had been offered a scholarship and was busily
assessing the Emigration Passes in National Archives of
Fiji. Impressed by Lal's industriousness, Gillion reported
back accordingly. In the event, Lal was placed in Robin
Jeffreys' South Asian section, Anthony Low was officially
his supervisor, and Ken Gillion took charge of Lal's
The strong and abiding friendship that
developed between Gillion and Lal was initially rather
tense, partly a function of Gillion's introverted yet
demanding nature being confronted with the strong-willed
impatience of his newest student.
A mismatch of anxiety on Lal's part and expectation on
Gillion's also threw their disparate personalities into
sharp relief and created for a while an abrasive effect. The
problem centred on the choice of a PhD topic. Having done
his Masters on the Sikhs in Vancouver, Lal was set to do a
comparable study on Fiji but found it not to his liking. As
he tells it:
I came [to ANU] and started working on the Sikhs. After a month I was
bored with the subject. The records were sketchy and the
topic just didn't interest me. There was a lot of private
anguish. I told Ken that I wanted to work on the history of
indenture. At first he was very unencouraging because he
said the topic was done, and there was little new that I
would contribute. There
was also the sense that I was encroaching on his turf, and
Ahmed Ali was working on his [oral histories] book at that
There was a feeling that I would just be deconstructing,
instead of contributing new knowledge.
I said I would work on something else. And then—I
don't know how it happened—I said, 'I'll look at the
background of these people. You've looked at their
experience in Fiji'. All of a sudden, for some strange
reason, he became interested.
It is not hard to see why Gillion was so keen
to support a full-scale study of the origins Indo-Fijians:
he knew that it was a viable topic, having himself written a
journal article on the subject a full two decades earlier.
The choice of topic made sense in another respect: Lal's
eventual study of Indian emigration
to Fiji would nicely complement his de facto supervisor's
monograph-length work on the indenture experience of those
That is not to say that Lal was going to
emerge in the Gillion mould. Their temperaments were too
different for that ever to happen. So were their respective
views of the historian's task. Whereas Gillion, as Lal sees
it, was concerned 'to maintain “balance”.... so [that]
everyone gets their share of his attention',
Lal himself needs a sense of involvement and attachment
before he can warm to a subject; and certainly, as he later
explained, his dissertation provided some of those
...it was a project in which the heart and the head came together. I was
writing about my own people, about myself really. So there
was a sense of immediacy, emotional attachment. I had the
language, I had the contacts. I was making a discovery that
had a direct social and personal interest. I have since
discovered—no doubt my early exposure to great literature
played a part here—that I am not very good at things
abstract, remote. A subject has to appeal to me emotionally,
has to have some personal relevance for me to be
intellectually engaged with it.
In 1980, after three years' 'ordeal by
thesis', Lal submitted a two volume PhD dissertation on the
origins of the Fijian Indians; a much-reduced version was
published in 1983 under the title Girmitiyas,
and dedicated to Ken Gillion.
It is largely an analysis of the 45,439 Emigration Passes of
the north Indians who embarked at Calcutta for Fiji. His
dissertation and book can, without too much hindsight, be
seen as a logical intellectual outcome of his upbringing,
his education and his need for attachment to a subject. As a
small boy in Tabia village, he listened to his grandfather
telling stories about India and why he came to Fiji. His PhD
candidature, in days when fieldwork was still required and
possible, enabled him to make a pilgrimage to his ancestral
land. Like those 45,439 North Indians who crossed the kala
pani (dark waters) for Fiji, so did Lal but from
the opposite direction. He got a huge culture shock: the
oppressiveness of India with its poverty and malfunctionings
assailed his senses and it took time to come to terms with
the strangeness and frequent unpleasantness of it all. The
highlight was to visit his grandfather's village in Bahraich.
His grandfather, who died in 1962, was forever talking about
the return home, and Lal discovered that the people of
Bahraich had kept a place and a plot of land for him until a
few years before his death (see 'Return to Bahraich' in this
December 1998, Lal
revisited Bahraich, this time with his own family, but only
to find that many people he had met during his first trip
were gone. 'I have difficulty establishing rapport with the
younger generation', he writes in an essay here ('Sunrise on
the Ganga'). 'I am a stranger among them'. A journey is
complete. He will not return again to his grandfather's
Such were the family and
academic influences on Lal's work on the origins of the Fiji
Indians. What about his methods and conclusions? As he said
of his dissertation:
Its purpose is to delineate the background of the indentured emigrants in
India. Our central concern is to understand who the
emigrants were, what social and economic strata and regions
of the subcontinent they came from, the reasons for their
emigration, the processes of recruitment and registration;
in short, the structural dynamics of indentured labour
emigration from India. These questions have, by and large,
occupied the periphery of most studies of Indian indenture;
yet it is certain that without a fuller understanding of
them, any objective appraisal of the indenture system cannot
That appraisal was made on the basis of a
computer analysis. The
raw data collected from the Emigration Passes were entered
onto code sheets and fed into a computer.
One purpose of Lal's study was to test what a
reviewer of his eventual book described as 'The distinctly
hostile stereotype of indentured Indians belonging to the
dregs of Indian society, driven by unremitting poverty to
the comparatively affluent circumstances of Fijian
plantations, there to prove basely ungrateful to their
employers-cum-benefactors by demanding quite unreasonable
economic and political concessions'.
To the contrary, the girmitiyas were scarcely a sampling of
untouchables from the streets of Calcutta. Lal demonstrated
conclusively that just under 22 per cent came from the lower
classes. To sum up, the emigrants were of varied social
origins drawn from a wide cross-section of rural society and
representing, to varying degrees, most castes. These
conclusions, which are outlined in the early chapters to
this volume, emerge from Lal's computerized analysis of the
Other conclusions, however, did not and could
not emerge from the Emigration Passes but are based on
archival research and fieldwork. On these bases, Lal took
issue with another 'conventional stereotype of Indians being
the world's greatest 'landlubbers', an immobile race
immutably fixed in a rigidly stratified social system,
observing eternal rules of dharma
(duty) and karma
Rather, emigration to Fiji and elsewhere was an extension of
an existing movement of wage labourers to the Calcutta jute
mills, the Assam tea gardens, the Bihar coal mines, the
Bombay textile mills. Worker mobility stemmed from a variety
of 'push' factors that stemmed from the extent of rural
poverty and dislocation, especially when famine stalked the
land. In examining the recruiting process, Lal concluded
that enlistment was sometimes based on deception and fraud
but that its extent had been exaggerated. So the context is
one of social mobility and the pervasive themes are agency,
participation and choice by the subjects themselves.
One test of an author's interpretation is its
durability. Another is its reception among workers in the
same vineyard. In downplaying the coercive and deceptive
role of the arkatis, Lal has run into criticism from Marina Carter, who
found that many emigrants 'were often either unaware of
their real destination or unable to reach the colony of
But the bulk of discussion inclines in the opposite
direction. In 1997, Clem Seecharan, the historian of Indians
in British Guiana, wrote that Lal's Girmitiyas
was '[a] rare fount of illumination':
Here, in a freshingly lucid and dispassionate way, the unexamined dogma
of deception and kidnapping is scrutinised and largely
debunked. Lal has unearthed compelling socio-economic
reasons for their leaving, and one feels coaxed into
adopting these, to see their role in shaping the temperament
of the indentured labourers and their descendants in the
Lal's use of computer
analysis is perhaps the best known feature of his earlier
work. But it is not something that impels his unqualified
admiration. As he said in his dissertation,
my enthusiasm for the value of computerised data is tempered by my
awareness of its limitations. We now know a great deal about
who emigrated, when and from where—but very little about
why all this happened. In other words, quantification has
helped us to answer the 'how' (structural) questions of
history, but not the 'why' (causal) questions. To understand
the latter, we have had to turn to conventional published
and unpublished sources as well as to oral and
This 'oral and impressionistic evidence' was
the use of folk songs, which appear throughout Girmitiyas.
The idea to utilise such material and to see how Indian
emigration was represented in folk culture came from Wang
Gungwu, one of Lal's PhD supervisors who himself was working
at the time on Chinese emigration.
The results might now seem somewhat superficial and
insufficiently integrated into Lal's broader discussion, but
this aspect of Girmitiyas was done just as it was becoming academically
respectable and finding a place within mainstream discourse.
It is worth digressing to say that historians
of the Pacific Islands labour trade have been notably
innovative, methodologically adventurous and receptive to
techniques that will add to the more conventional
documentary sources, or enable them to handle the
conventional sources more effectively. Peter Corris started
the trend in the late 1960s when he engaged in fieldwork in
Queensland, Fiji and the Solomon Islands, and interviewed
surviving participants in the Solomon Islands labour trade.
The following decade, Judith Bennett, likewise gathered oral
testimony in the Solomon Islands and, among other things,
produced the best account of plantation life thus far in
Pacific Islands historiography.
Clive Moore also made extensive use of oral testimony and
innovatively intermeshed it with the documentary evidence.
For example, from the documents he identified by name some
3,800 of the 9,000 Malaitans who enlisted for Queensland
plantations. During fieldwork, oral information was collated
on 132 of these recruits, whose personal details
corroborated the existing interpretation of recruiting.
Nearly all recruited willingly.
Moore's research technique also modified previously
held conclusions. It
was previously thought that Malaitan recruits up until 1884
were predominantly salt-water people, and mostly bush people
than this shift being a sharp break, however, Moore's
research technique revealed that it was a 'gradual
transition'. The oral testimony from Malaita also resulted
in a major revision on the motives for enlisting. Once
thought to have been an individual matter, it was frequently
a corporate decision with kin groups deciding who should go
and who should stay.
A closer approach to Lal's is that of Patricia
Mercer who, in addition to conventional archival and oral
research, deploys the specialised techniques of historical
demography in her study of Pacific Islander settlement in
North Queensland. In Mercer's words, historical demography
reconstruction of the demographic features of a community through
aggregation of individual and life histories built up from
nominal sources: i.e. those in which an individual is named.
These sources extend well beyond the usual library and
archival material to encompass a wealth of local
records—church, school, [sugar] mill, hospital and
cemetery—held in the region itself and the oral testimony
of present day Islanders.... This methodology offers a
window on social history through the linkages which can be
made between the individual and wider economic, social and
cultural patterns: mobility economic and physical,
occupation, educational performance, religious membership,
family and community relationships support structures,
social unity and divisions.
Most recently, Dorothy Shineberg's study of
the labour trade in Pacific Islanders to New Caledonia also
displays a fine sense of how to surmount the limitations of
the documentary sources. Her initial problem was simply
knowing the size and scale of this migration when the
registers of arrivals, if they ever existed, had been lost.
It was [she said] necessary to reconstruct the basic data, adding the
numbers of arrivals and departures from reports in the
shipping columns of local newspapers over the whole period,
scanning the acts of the
état civil (Register of Births, Marriages and
Deaths) for foreign Oceanians whose origins, estimated age,
(less often) registration number, and (rarely) date of
arrival and ship might be given.
This arduous process had to be completed before I
could establish the volume and time frame of the trade and
begin the normal process of research and interpretation.
This is the closest that any Pacific historian
has come to the sort of computer analysis in which Lal
As Shineberg explains, her quantification resulted in an
upward revision of the numbers involved to at least
14,000—a figure, says Shineberg, that is 'so much higher
than previous estimates that this in itself makes a
difference to one's thinking about the subject'.
As this statement implies, quantification is
not an end in itself but a useful and often indispensable
means to putting flesh on historical characters or to help
understand trends and situations.
Lal would agree. His acknowledgement that
computerised analysis provides partial answers is endorsed
by Marina Carter, who notes that such data with respect to
the family 'deal[s] only with migrants at their point of
entry into colonial societies'. What happens after that can,
on data of this sort, only be discussed 'at a purely
disenchantment with quantification was also a matter of
preference and calling. He is the first to admit that the
number-crunching was boring and intellectually unsatisfying.
A certain excitement surrounded the initial preparations of
designing a programme to manipulate his data with the
assistance of Robert Mailladert, a statistician, who helped
him work this out. Lal then designed a standardised sheet
and devised the codes for all the variables from the
Emigration Passes. There was one sheet for each Emigration
Pass. The codes were memorised and once he got used to it,
it took about a minute and a half to complete each sheet. It
was concentrated and exhausting work that took five months
of full time daily work, and the novelty soon wore off. In
one sense, he says, the time and effort was worthwhile
It provided me with trends that no one knew about—family migration,
women and children and so on: this is what happened and it
is very important. People moving about from village to
village, internal migration, women moving about, what age.
So it was very detailed, important information.
does the effort ultimately justify the results? Gillion
insisted that Lal go through each and every Emigration Pass
relating to north India. He brushed aside Lal's suggestion
that sampling would be sufficient, insisting that each
person was important.
In hindsight [says Lal] I think that 45,000 was unnecessary.
Comprehensive, yes, but you don't want to overdo it. I could
have attained the same results—not perhaps with the same
degree of authority—with a sample.
essentially felt dissatisfied because the data from the
Emigration Passes did not enable him to reach the answer to
the important questions of 'why': he could not, by such
means, reach the heart of the indenture experience. Some
temperaments, moreover, find such work akin to watching
paint drying on a wall. It is not to everyone's taste and
Lal was only too glad, when the time came, to make his great
escape from the world of quantification.
At the end of 1980, Lal
returned to a teaching position at the University of the
South Pacific (USP) and embarked on the documentary and
humanistic research with which he was more comfortable. His
research time was now divided between the political history
of Fiji and the girmitiya experience in Fiji.
At the same time as he was analysing the 1982 Fiji
he was busily extending his earlier work: he sent a
condensed version of his dissertation to the publisher;
he wrote a conference paper on the circulation and migration
of Indian indentured labour for the 1983 Pacific Science
Congress (published for the first time in this volume); and
he published a paper on the voyage of the Leonidas,
the vessel which brought the first Indian indentured
labourers to Fiji, in 1879.
Some years earlier, Lal had written a beautifully
crafted paper on the wreck of the Syria
in 1884, which cost the lives of 56 would-be Indian
immigrants. Both are republished in this volume.
Nonetheless, by the early 1980s, Lal was
finding USP, and Fiji generally, too restrictive.
He realised, as his complacent colleagues could not,
the 'intellectual shallowness of [that particular]
There were, moreover, too many distractions. As one
of the few local academics with a doctorate, he was in high
demand to speak at high school graduations and to address
various community gatherings.
He felt that he was doing little serious scholarship
and that too much of his time was being spent on activities
that would be 'ultimately meaningless'.
He had to get out and prove himself in a 'more
demanding intellectual environment', and he had to 'make the
move before it was too late'.
When USP declined Lal's request for a year's leave of
absence to teach at the University of Hawaii, he took the
packed his bags and books, and accompanied by his wife and a
young daughter, took up a track-tenure Assistant
Professorship at Hawaii.
Oblivious to the pun, he described the move, in
August 1983, as 'burn[ing] my bridges in Fiji'.
Less than three years after returning to his homeland
he was on the move again—much like the north Indian
peasants about whom he wrote.
There is no doubt that Lal made the right
decision: he was able to achieve goals in Hawaii that would
have been out of reach in Fiji.
It is not pushing the analogy too far to say that his
situation resembles that of the great Russian ballet dancer
Rudolph Nureyev, who defected to the West.
As (some) Russians are prepared to admit: 'What
Nureyev did in the west, he could never have done here'.
And Lal made the most of his opportunities in Honolulu.
He loved teaching the 'World Civilizations' course,
and continued to teach it when no longer obliged to, as
director of the program.
He supervised numerous graduate students, something
hardly possible at USP even now. He was influential in the
thriving local scholarly publishing scene, serving on
several editorial boards.
He was appointed founding editor of The
Contemporary Pacific, which quickly became the
premier regional journal in the social sciences and won the
1990 Association of American Publishers Best New Journal
Award in Business, Social Sciences and Humanities. (This is
one of the few things that you'll ever hear him brag about.)
And his own writing and publishing blossomed as he hoped
Again, he divided his research time between
the recent political history of Fiji and the Indian
indenture experience in Fiji.
But the balance of the equation was beginning to
change as Lal increasingly became absorbed with the study of
contemporary politics in Fiji.
This understandably intensified after the Fiji coups
of 1987. Nevertheless, in his early years in Hawaii he was
still mainly concerned with the indenture experience of the
Fiji Indians, and he published a series of important papers.
Having dealt with the girmitiyas' origins and social
backgrounds, he now followed them on to the plantations.
I once asked Lal to make a statement on the
nature of indenture and plantation life, and he said:
Leaving aside the questions of exploitation, racism, and the
institutional aspects of indenture, I think that the
indenture experience is a very important, formative and
defining period in the history of overseas Indian
communities, particularly in the Caribbean, Mauritius, South
Africa and Fiji, because that is the site of the initial
social transformation. It is fundamental. When the Old World
meets the New, then old ways of doing things, old values and
institutions start to change. We begin to confront the
reality of a completely different social order when former
ways of doing things, the world view, seem to lose their
relevance. The caste system breaks down, and along with that
a host of other social conventions and practices. Everyone
is a 'coolie', huddled together on the estate lines in
cramped quarters. In that sense, everyone is equal in the
denial of their individual humanity. The indenture
experience was a great leveller of hierarchy and status. I
see the indenture process as the death of one world and the
beginning of another. The details vary from colony to
colony, but the process is the same everywhere.
Lal is less dispassionate when it comes to
recounting the actual working and private lives of the
girmitiyas. It is a grim tale, as he tells it, with few
redeeming features. In
a general essay (not republished in this volume), Lal paints
a depressing portrait of exploitation and ill-treatment that
involved over-tasking, the complicity of sirdars
(Indian foremen), the instability of family life, suicides,
lack of protection by the legal system, government
indifference, non- or partial-payment of wages, ill-health
and high mortality. At one point Lal writes:
Low wages led or at least contributed to a number of other problems such
as poor or inadequate food, which, in turn, caused sickness.
Ill health led to absence from work, a problem that had
become acute by the 1890s. Absence meant loss of wages and
prosecution in a court of law. The vicious cycle was thus
At first sight this emphasis on harshness and
injustice might seem quite out of character with Lal's
earlier work, on the girmitiyas' origins. Influenced by the
dominant line of thought with the Canberra-school of Pacific
historians, Lal had accorded the emigrants a large measure
of agency in their decision to go abroad.
In other words, his work is 'revisionist' in the
sense that he rejected a victims-model and, instead, endowed
the Indian immigrants with a measure of free-will and
credited them with having made a rational choice to go to
Fiji—qualified of course by the restraints of their
personal and economic circumstances. Given all the 'push'
factors, they had taken a sensible option, in
But now, in his discussion of plantation life, he is
adopting an unambiguously 'counter-revisionist' position
where oppression, harshness and exploitation loom large.
There is no necessary contradiction between seemingly
divergent conclusions. The decision to emigrate and
conditions on the plantations are separate issues (although
if large numbers of girmitiyas genuinely expected 'quick and
easy fortune' in Fiji, as Lal suggests,
then the element of deception at the time of recruitment may
have been larger than he acknowledges). And Lal is not the
first historian to be revisionist in certain respects and
counter-revisionist in others. In similar fashion, Kay
Saunders found that the recruitment of Melanesians to
Queensland was largely a voluntary affair but their
treatment on the plantations was harsh and exploitative.
Whatever his conclusions, Lal's mode of
writing is characteristic in its argumentativeness. I am
using the term in its positive connotation—he has a point
of view; he argues his case resolutely; his arguments stick
close to the evidence (and he has the capacity for sustained
research); he often draws unambiguously moral conclusions,
for history, in his view, is an idealistic activity. Lal
once said, with respect to writing the contemporary history
of Fiji, that his approach was one of '[c]ritical attachment
rather than cool detachment'.
Or as he said on another occasion, '[f]or me history
provides a tool and a method to understand the contemporary
Those same impulses inform and channel his work on Indian
indenture in Fiji. The heart and the head have to come
together, otherwise the exercise is pointless.
Soon after arriving in Hawaii, Lal published a
trio of revisionary (not revisionist!) articles (all are
republished in this volume) that breathed life into the
study of indenture in Fiji. They are case studies in the
sense that each deals with a particular aspect of indenture,
be it worker resistance, the position of women or the
reasons for suicide. The essay on resistance was something
of an anti-climax. Taking his cue from Eugene Genovese's
observation about the paucity of slave rebellions in the
United States, Lal set out the reasons for non-resistance by
girmitiyas in terms of acquiescence against overwhelming
Their strategy for survival, in other words, was
outward compliance, that is 'non-resistance'.
After all, as David McCreery points out, '[o]ppressed
peoples have no obligation to act in ways academics find
dramatic and exciting, but rather to survive and endure and
to ensure the survival of their families and communities in
the face of what threaten to be literally overwhelming
These are hardly politically correct
sentiments. It is well known that resistance by indentured
workers was largely covert and small-scale (so-called 'day
to day resistance'), stopping well short of
organised, collective dissent.
This situation of scaled-down options was a function
of employers holding a big edge in the power relationship.
This, according to Lal, was extreme on sugar plantations in
Fiji. It takes little imagination to realise how an argument
along these lines would have gone down had it been applied,
in the late-1960s/early-1970s, to American slaves. The
particular context was the Black Power movement when black
separatism and nationalism were at their height. In that
touchy, politicised setting, there was great resentment
should white historians find any deficiencies in American
slaves or their descendants. Even to say they were hapless
victims and were damaged as a result was 'ideologically
untenable'. The politics of grievance was driving the debate
In a less politically charged setting, Lal's conclusion that
non-resistance/accommodation could be a positive strategy
for survival now simply pushed the debate in new directions.
It put questions of resistance and accommodation, and the
boundaries and relationships between the two, onto the
research agenda and resulted in—if I may say—an
important collection of essays on which we collaborated as
editors. It turned out that Lal's notion of non-resistance
was anything but far fetched, as the chapter on Gilbertese
labourers in Samoa demonstrated. The Gilbertese were not
shrinking violets. They were not easily cowed. But on German
plantations in Samoa during the 1870s and 1880s, they
buckled under a reign of near-terror and, like their Indian
counterparts in Fiji, discovered that non-resistance was
their only viable option.
Not surprisingly, there is little room for individual or
group agency in Lal's discussion of non-resistance. The
watchword is survival.
The theme of survival likewise pervades Lal's
study of women labourers. Another of Lal's revisionary
essays of the mid-1980s, it examines the private and working
lives of Indian women and gives credence to the assertion
that gendered history can be remarkably ungendered, so to
speak. It has recently been said that 'many women have
written major works on political or diplomatic history in
which there is nothing at all that might betray the fact
that they are female except the name on the cover¼'.
Conversely, there are histories about women whose male
authorship is only identifiable by his name on the title
page. Lal is a case in point. He writes with profound
sympathy for and understanding of the plight of women
girmitiyas. The essay is entitled 'Kunti's Cry', in
remembrance of a young woman's misfortune. Kunti rejected
the sexual advances of her European overseer and jumped into
a nearby river to escape his unwanted intentions. She was
saved from drowning but she was deeply traumatised by the
ordeal. Kunti became a cause
celêbre, around whom revolved highly publicised
attempts to stop the emigration of Indian women for overseas
indentured service, to the accompaniment of a sustained
government cover-up. In
Lal's account, Kunti's story becomes Kunti's metaphorical
cry of anguish for the lot of her female compatriots, who
took the brunt of the blame for the multifarious ills of
plantation life. Just as Edward Thompson sought to rescue
'the poor [nineteenth century English] stockinger, the
Luddite cropper, the “obsolete” handloom weaver, the
“utopian” artisan ¼ from the enormous condescension of posterity',
so has Lal attempted to rescue the poor Indian woman
labourer from the enormous sanctimony of posterity.
He not only sets out the women's broader
working experience, which was exacting in itself.
He is concerned to refute the wider implications and
consequences of their allegedly immoral character.
The women made up less than 30 per cent of the adult
plantation workforce and their supposed licentiousness and
infidelity produced such a degree of sexual jealousy that
the males were frequently driven to commit suicide or else
to murder the women. Prostitution, moreover, was rampant and
the level of infant mortality appalling, and again the women
were held responsible.
Lal does not see it that way at all: he places the
responsibility squarely on the plantation system, which
eroded family life, or on the males, some of whom were not
backward in prostituting the wives and daughters. In Lal's
words, '[t]he focus of the supposed immoral character of the
women conveniently detracted attention from those conditions
on the plantations that promoted sexual jealousy and the
murders'. The high infant mortality rate was a function not
of bad mothering but of the unsanitary conditions that
prevail on the plantations. Indenture was 'indeed a harsh
experience'. The theme of survival again emerges because,
despite a mix of 'achievement and wreckage', most of the
women somehow survived through 'sheer determination', and
that is to be applauded. But, reminds Lal, '[i]t is too
often ¼ forgotten that the benefits and hardships of indentured were not
distributed equitably¼' and women bore the brunt of the hardships. Kunti's cry of was thus 'a
protest against the veil of dishonour that Indian women
wore, or rather were made to wear, during their indenture on
Fiji plantations'. Again, Lal provides a victims-model in
which damage and survival are key elements.
This article came under attack from the
ubiquitous but wayward Tom Brass who claimed that Lal's
'positive theorization of “survival”entailed a negation
of the women's oppression and exploitation'.
It is difficult to see how such a comment can be sustained
when the gist of Lal's argument has consistently been the
harshness of the plantation system as it operated in Fiji,
and not least in this particular article where he paints an
unrelentingly grim picture of plantation life and labour. He
repeated the charge in his latest book on indenture—a
collection of documents—reminding his readers that the
indenture experience 'in the main was a story of great
hardship and suffering, and many were broken and left by the
There is nothing inconsistent or untoward in celebrating the
survivors and their capacity for survival against the odds.
Lal is not, as Brass seems to be saying, letting the
indenture system off the hook. To survive at such high cost
is hardly an undiluted triumph. Much less does it entail a
denial of suffering.
The early article that Lal himself most likes
is the one on suicide. It is the most difficult to discuss,
not surprisingly, because it is seldom possible to discover
the real intention behind such an act and, to varying
degrees, suicide is a taboo subject in most cultures.
Nor it is surprising that Lal's evidence is sparse
and fragile—a comment here, an aside there, an expression
of prejudice or concern elsewhere. That said, 333 Indians
committed suicide in Fiji during the indenture period,
almost all of whom were indentured labourers.
Given that there were almost 61,000 girmitiyas, this
may sound insignificant; but it was high by comparison with
the free population, with the north Indian population, and
with indentured populations elsewhere. The vast majority of
the suicides were by males, and the finger was pointed at
the alleged infidelity of the women labourers. This was the
prevailing contemporary explanation and Lal admits that he
found the sexual jealousy argument persuasive until he
conducted detailed documentary research into the question.
While he admits that sexual jealousy was a contributing
factor, not least because there were so many more men than
women, he again finds that the plantation system was the
real culprit, this time because it led directly to the
social and cultural disruption that created the conditions
for suicide. His argument is more subtle and nuanced than
this bald outline would suggest. But, in the last resort,
suicide was 'both a cry of despair and an act of protest
directed ultimately at the principles and ethics of the
indenture system itself'.
On a topic so controversial and slippery,
there is bound to be room for discussion. The sociologist
Shaista Shameem offers the quite contrary view that it was
not the erosion of 'integrative institutions' such as family
and kinship that caused the suicides of men (and the murders
of women), but because women 'challenge[d] the[se]
“integrative institutions” on the plantations and the
men's place in them'. It is an interesting speculation, but
no more than a speculation: Shameem provides not a shred of
hard empirical evidence to support her assertion, either in
the source quoted or elsewhere.
Lal's work will prosper in the company of
genuine discussion and debate. There is room for alternative
lines of enquiry, especially those informed by more
comparative perspectives. There were, for example,
proportionally far fewer suicides among Melanesian
indentured labourers in Queensland where the gender
imbalance was far more severe (about 8 per cent of
Melanesian labourers were females against about 28 per cent
in Fiji). What does this suggest? It is also worth paying
greater attention to the fact the vast majority of suicides
occurred within the first six months of indenture when the
trauma and despair of social dislocation were most keenly
felt. Another matter for detailed enquiry is the role of
religion and especially its role as an integrative
institution. 'The Story of the Haunted Line' by Totaram
Sanadhya (published in this volume) tells how a strong
religious faith sustained him through terrible moments in
the early months, and probably prevented him from taking his
own life. And there is something else to consider: Lal's
specialised articles on the indenture experience are still
generalist in nature—delineating the broad trends of a
particular theme or topic but seldom engaging in the
fine-grained details of individual lives or situations.
There is obvious scope to build upon his work in the manner,
for example, of John Kelly's micro-study of capital
These challenges and urgings provide one of
the rationales for publishing the present volume. Lal and I
somewhat deplore the lack of a developed historical
consciousness in Fiji. It is as though anything before the
1987 coups is ancient history, to be ignored and despised as
an irrelevance. Few
descendants of the girmitiyas have an informed knowledge of
the indenture experience, and this is altogether wrong. We
hope that the retrieval of these essays in readily
accessible form will contribute to a better knowledge of a
crucial aspect of Fiji's history. And what better time than
now, when Lal has signalled his intention to write no more
about the indenture experience, apart perhaps from
reflections of a more personal nature. Just as he drew the
veil of dishonour from the indentured women, he now brings
down the curtain on this particular journey in his life. He
will no longer, metaphorically speaking, follow in the steps
of his late grandfather. His own girmit is complete.
A listing of Lal's books is appended at the end of
David Northrup, Indentured
Labor in the Age of Imperialism, 1834-1920
156-62; Stanley Engerman, 'Servants to Slaves to Servants:
contract labour and European expansion', in P.C. Emmer
(ed.), Colonialism and
Migration: indentured labor before and after slavery
(Dordrecht, 1986), 272-74
Jeff Siegal, 'Origins of Pacific Islands Labourers
in Fiji', Journal of
Pacific History (hereafter JPH),
20:1/2 (1985), 46.
For historiographic overviews of the Pacific
Islands labour trade, and the place of Fiji Indians within
it, see Clive Moore, 'Labour, Indenture and Historiography
in the Pacific', in Brij V. Lal (ed.), Pacific
Island History: journeys and transformations
(Canberra, 1992), 129-48; Doug Munro, 'The Pacific Islands
Labour Trade: approaches, methodologies, debates', Slavery
& Abolition, 14:2 (1993), 87-108.
. Anthony Low, Britain
and Indian Nationalism: the imprint of ambiguity,
1929-1942 (Cambridge 1997), viii. Ali is a
professor of business management in Pakistan, Henningham
is deputy Australian high commissioner in Papua New
Guinea, Major taught history at the University of
Singapore until recently, and Chakrabarty teaches at the
University of Chicago.
Doug Munro, 'Interview with Brij V. Lal: historian
of indenture and of contemporary Fiji', Itinerario: European journal of overseas history, 21:1
. Lal (ed.), Journeys
and Transformations, 245.
. Brij V. Lal, 'East Indians in British
Columbia, 1904-1974: an historical study in growth and
integration', MA thesis, University of British Columbia,
to emerge from this research are 'Political Movement in
the Early East Indian Community in Canada', Journal
of Intercultural Studies, 2 (1981), 61-87;
and 'Canada: the tide of the turbans', in Ron
Crocombe (ed.), Pacific
Indians: profiles from 20 Pacific countries
(Suva 1982), 130-43.
. Brij V. Lal, 'Exhaustion and
Persistence: aspects of rural Indian society in Fiji', Quarterly
Review of Historical Studies (Calcutta), 17:2
. Charles A. Price, The
Great White Walls Are Built: restrictive immigration to
North America and Australasia, 1836-1888
. K.L. Gillion, Fiji's
Indian Migrants: a history to the end of indenture in 1920
(Melbourne, 1962; reprinted 1973).
. Ahmed Ali (ed.), Girmit:
the indenture experience in Fiji (Suva , 1979).
. Taped conversation, Canberra, 13
. K.L. Gillion, 'The Sources of Indian
Emigration to Fiji', Population
Studies, 10:2 (1956), 139-57.
. Munro, 'Interview with Brij V. Lal',
19. Another historian of overseas Indians, Hugh Tinker,
also maintained that Gillion was concerned with 'balance',
but with slightly derogatory connotations. In Tinker's
assessment of Fiji's
Indian Migrants, 'Dr. Gillion is perhaps a
little too concerned to be “balanced”, and sometimes
holds back from the most searching probe into the sordid,
being also influenced by traditional British colonial
history. He gets closer to the Indians than does Dr.
Cumpston [in her book Indians
Overseas in British Territories, 1834-1854
(London, 1953)]'. See
Hugh Tinker, A New System of Slavery: the export of Indian labour overseas, 1830-1920
(London 1974), 407. In Lal's view, Gillion tried to be
fair to everyone—but not all groups and individuals are
worthy of equal attention. My experience of Gillion leads
me to suggest that he certainly cared about moral and
political issues but was not given to expressing himself
in emotional language, despite being highly critical of
plantation conditions in Fiji (Gillion, Fiji's
Indian Migrants, 103-29). Measured terminology
does not necessarily equate with lack of passion.
. Munro, 'Interview with Brij V. Lal', 18. For
a somewhat similar statement, see Peter H. Wood, '”The
Dream Deferred”: black freedom struggles on the eve of
white independence', in Gary Y. Okihiro (ed.), In
Resistance: studies in African, Caribbean and Afro-African
history (Amherst,1986), 166.
. Brij V. Lal, 'Leaves of the Banyan Tree:
origins and background of Fiji's North Indian migrants,
1879-1916', 2 vols., PhD thesis, Australian National
University, 1980; Lal, Girmitiyas:
The origins of the Fiji Indians (Canberra,
1983). The book has long been out of print. It was to have
been reissued by a London publisher, which unfortunately
. Lal, 'Leaves of the Banyan Tree', I: 21-22.
. W.T. Roy, review of Girmitiyas,
in Australian Journal
of Politics and History, 30:2 (1984), 292.
. Brij V. Lal, 'Fiji Girmitiyas:
the background to banishment', in Vijay Mishra (ed.), Rama's
Banishment: a centenary tribute to the Fiji Indians,
1879-1979 (Auckland , 1979), 14.
. Marina Carter, Voices
from Indenture: experiences of Indian Migrants in the
British Empire (London/New York, 1996), 45.
. Clem Seecharan,
'Tigers in the Stars': the anatomy of Indian achievement
in British Guiana, 1919-29 (London/Bassingstoke
1997), xxiii. See also Surendra Bhana, Indentured
Indian emigrants to Natal, 1860-1902: a study based on
ships' lists (New Delhi 1991), xi., another
computer-based analysis which is modelled on the Girmitiyas.
. Lal, 'Leaves of the Banyan Tree', 28.
. Anthony Reid (ed), Community
and Nation: Essays on Southeast Asia and the Chinese
by Wang Gungwu (Singapore: Heinemann Educational Books,
. There was already some discussion of the use
of songs and folklore in West Indian historiography. For
example Ved Prakash Vatuk, 'Protest Songs of East Indians
in British Guiana', Journal
of American Folklore, 78 (1964). The
pathbreaking work is Lawrence W. Levine, Black
Culture and Black Consciousness (Oxford 1977).
Another profoundly influential book on the use of folklore
is Charles Joyner, Down
by the Riverside: a South Carolina slave community
. Peter Corris, Passage,
Port and Plantation: a history of Solomon Islands labour
migration, 1870-1914 (Melbourne, 1973), esp.
. Judith A. Bennett, Wealth
of the Solomons: a history of a Pacific archipelago,
1800-1970 (Honolulu, 1987), 167-91; Bennett,
'Personal Work Histories of Solomon Islands Plantation
Laborers—methodology and evidence', Pacific
Studies, 5:1 (1982), 34-56.
. Clive Moore, Kanaka: a
History of Melanesian Mackay (Boroko/Port
Moresby, 1985) esp. 50-51, 81-89.
. Patricia Mercer, White
Australia Defied: Pacific Islander settlement in North
Queensland (Townsville, 1995), xv. Manifestos
by the practitioners of historical demography include E.A.
Wrigley, 'Population, Family and Household', in Martin
Ballard (ed.), New
Movements in the Study and Teaching of History
(Melbourne, 1971), 93-104; Wrigley, 'The Prospects for
Population History', Journal
of Interdisciplinary History, 12 (1981),
207-26; Kenneth A. Lockridge, 'Historical Demography', in
Charles F. Delzell (ed.), The
Future of History: essays in the Vanderbilt University
Centennial Symposium (Nashville, 1977), 53-64.
A more neutral description is Richard E. Beringer, Historical
Analysis: contemporary approaches to Clio's craft
(New York, 1978), 235-53. My own somewhat skeptical
remarks on the possibilities of historical demography are
in 'Indenture, Deportation, Survival: recent books on
Australian South Sea Islanders', Journal
of Social History, 31:4 (1998), 937-38.
. Dorothy Shineberg, '“The New Hebridean is
everywhere”: the Oceanian labor trade to New Caledonia',
18:2 (1995), 2. The
eventual book was published as The
People Trade: Pacific Island Laborers and New Caledonia,
1865-1930 (Honolulu, 1999).
. One should also note the work of Ralph Shlomowitz,
a Chicago-trained economist, whose studies of the
structure of indentured labour markets and on worker
mortality have a solid statistical basis. Shlomowitz's
work on mortality has been gathered in his collection of
essays, Mortality and
Migration in the Modern World (Aldershot,
1996). Shlomowitz's background is sketched by Doug Munro,
'Debate on the Queensland Labour Trade' [symposium], Journal
of Pacific Studies, 18 (1994-95), 105-09.
. Dorothy Shineberg, '”Noumea no good, Noumea no pay”:
“New Hebridean” indentured labour in New Caledonia,
26:2 (1991), 187.
. Carter, Voices from
. Taped conversation, 13 December 1998.
. Taped conversation, 13 December 1998.
Brij V. Lal, 'The Fiji General Election of 1982:
the tidal wave that never came', JPH,
18:1/2 (1983), 134-57.
is a drastically condensed version of the original
dissertation. It contains none of the statistical tables
in volume 2, and the historiographic and methodological
chapters in volume 1 have likewise been omitted.
See his 'Indian Indenture Historiography: A Note on
Problems, Sources and Methods', in Pacific
Studies, 6:2, 33-50.
. Brij V. Lal, 'From Across the Horizon: reflections on a sojourn in
Hawai'i', Journal of
Pacific Studies, 20 (1996), 225-27.
. Peter Watson, Nureyev:
a biography (London, 1994), 455.
. Munro, 'Interview with Brij V.
. Brij V. Lal, 'Labouring Men and Nothing
More: some problems of Indian indenture in Fiji', in Kay
Saunders (ed.), Indentured Labour in the British Empire, 1834-1920
(London/Canberra, 1984), 137.
. Lal acknowledges that Peter Corris's Passage, Port and Plantation, an unambiguously revisionist
text, was '[t]he book on Pacific history that most
impressed me initially'. Munro, 'Interview with Brij V.
. The revisionist/counter-revisionist positions
and debates are discussed in Clive Moore, 'Revising the Revisionists: the
historiography of immigrant Melanesians to Australia', Pacific
Studies, 15:2 (1992), 61-86; Doug Munro, 'The
Labor Trade in Melanesians to Queensland: an
historiographic essay', Journal
of Social History, 28:3 (1995), 609-27.
. Lal, 'Labouring Men and Nothing More', 147.
. Kay Saunders, The
Origins and Bases of Unfree Labour in Queensland,
1824-1916 (Brisbane, 1982).
. Brij V. Lal, Broken
Waves: a history of the Fiji Islands in the twentieth
century (Honolulu, 1992), xvii.
. Munro, 'Interview with Brij V. Lal', 22.
. Eugene D. Genovese, From
Rebellion to Revolution: Afro-American Slave revolts in
the modern world (Baton Rouge, 1979), 7.
. David McCreery, 'Hegemony and Repression in
Rural Guatemala, 1871-1940', Peasant
Studies, 17:3 (1990), 157.
. The paradigmatic statement
is James C. Scott, Weapons
of the Weak: everyday forms of peasant resistance
(New Haven/London, 1993).
. See August Meier and
Elliott Rudwick, Black
History and the Historical Profession, 1915-1980
(Urbana/London, 1986), 277-98; Peter Novick, That
Noble Dream: the 'objectivity question' and the American
historical profession (Cambridge, 1988),
472-91. For an example closer to home, see Clive Moore, 'Decolonising
the History of Australia's South Sea Islanders: politics
and curriculum materials', in Donald Denoon (ed.), Emerging
from Empire?: decolonisation in the Pacific
(Canberra, 1997), 194-203.
. Doug Munro and Stewart Firth,
'Samoan Plantations: the Gilbertese laborers' experience,
1867-1896', in Brij V. Lal, Doug Munro and Edward D.
Beechert (eds), Plantation
Workers: resistance and accommodation
(Honolulu, 1993), 101-27.
. Richard J. Evans, In
Defence of History (London, 1997), 217.
. E.P. Thompson, The
Making of the English Working Class (London,
. Such was the extent of
overtasking that girmitiyas—men as well as women—did
not routinely received their full wage until as late as
1908. Wadan Lal Narsey, 'Monopoly Capitalism, White Racism
and Super-profits in Fiji', Journal
of Pacific Studies, 5 (1979), 86; Ralph
Shlomowitz, 'The Fiji Labor Trade in Comparative
Perspective, 1864-1914', Pacific
Studies, 9:3 (1986), 140.
. The questions of infant mortality and
fertility are also dealt with by Ralph Shlomowitz, 'Infant
Mortality and Fiji's Indian Migrants, 1879-1919', Indian
Economic and Social History Review, 23:3
(1996), 289-302; Shlomowitz, 'Fertility and Fiji's Indian
Migrants, 1879-1919', Indian
Economic and Social History Review, 24:2
(1988), 205-12 (both republished in Shlomowitz, Mortality
and Migration in the Modern World).
. Tom Brass, 'Some Observations on Unfree
Labour, Capital Restructuring, and Deproletarianisation',
in Tom Brass and Marcel van der Linden (eds), Free
and Unfree Labour: the debate continues (Bern,
. Brij V. Lal (ed.), Crossing
the Kala Pani: a documentary history of Indian indenture
in Fiji Canberra/Suva, 1998), 2.
. Shaista Shameem, 'Girmitiya Women in
Fiji: work, resistance and survival', in Clive Moore,
Jacqueline Leckie and Doug Munro (eds), Labour
in the South Pacific (Townsville, 1990), 153;
'Sugar and Spice: wealth accumulation and the
labour of Indian women in Fiji, 1879-1930', D.Phil thesis,
University of Waikato (Hamilton, 1990), 227.
. J.D. Kelly, 'Fiji Indians and the
Law, 1912', in John Dunham Kelly and Uttra Kumari Singh (eds),
My Twenty-One Years in
the Fiji Islands and The Story of the Haunted Line
(Suva, 1991), 154-219.