International Conference on The Saga of Indentured Migration
There will be a hybrid International Conference on The Saga of Girmitiya Migration: Re-engaging the Homeland, Culture, History and Memory on 27, 28 & 29, April 2022. The conference is being organised by the Department of Languages, Manipal University in Jaipur in India. The notice has been shared by Satyendra Peerthum <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The South Asian labour migration started with the introduction of indentured labour system in 1838. This labour migration tried to fill the gap of African slaves who denied working for colonial powers after the abolition of slavery in 1833. More than 1.5 million men and women migrated to different colonies from the Indian subcontinent. The experiences of indentured labour migration from South Asia reflect the severe violence which was inflicted on labourers. The Girmitya consciousness explains the process of the deceitful recruitment process, corporal punishment, hardships etc. The famous historian, David Northrup drags our attention to the fact the indenture labour migration can be classified as labour diaspora where people from the Indian subcontinent were pushed to migrate different British colonies by signing an agreement of five years.
The term “girmitya” is a malapropism of an English word “agreement” under Indentured Labour System (1834 – 1920) during British Colonial rule in India. This word is derived from “girmit” a word used by the indentured labourers, mostly from north India, who could not pronounce the English word “agreement”. The Abolition of Slavery Act (1833) has created a grave scarcity of labours in European colonies. Hence, South Asia became an alternate source for ‘girmitya’ – a ‘contract labours. These labours were also known as “coolies”, “Jahajis”, “Indentured Labour” or “Indian Labourers” who were forcefully and voluntarily taken from colonial India (today’s Pakistan and Bangladesh) and scattered across the British colonies in Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, East Africa and in the Caribbean, mostly Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Jamaica to work mainly on sugar cane plantations. Approximately 6 million population migrated to different British colonies (Clarke 1990, N. Gangulee 1974, Northrup D. 1995, Brij V Lal 1983 et.al.) They were also scattered in South Asian and South-East Asian countries like Burma (Myanmar), Malaya (Malaysia) and Cyclone (Sri Lanka) mostly from South and Central India, Bengal (including today’s Bangladesh) and Karachi and Lahore (Pakistan).
The connections to ancestral home/land
Indian men and women commenced a long and perilous voyage across seven oceans to work as ‘bonded’/ ‘contract’ labour. However, they and their narratives of terrible journeys, hardships and adjustment with a new culture have been faded with time. Various opportunities and adverse circumstances compelled an individual to leave the homeland. The South Asian diasporic community form close-knit ethnic and religious values with strong social structure and cultural traditions that help in maintaining the sense of togetherness and ancestral memory. Though they were very much heterogeneous, this also did not break their communal harmony.
With the rise of globalization and ICT, these scattered people of Indian origin are re-connected to their home/land and rise of the concept of diaspora and diaspora studies re-taken up this subject for study and research the neglected diverse heritage of colonial and postcolonial India, Indian history, literature, and identities in transnational space. Thus, the proposed conference is an attempt to bring the narratives of girmitiya in the mainstream scholarly debates and discussions of migration and diaspora from South Asia in general and India in particular. It will also critically analyse various literary forms of Girmitiya. Although they have migrated centuries back, absorbed and assimilated and got citizenships of respective places of destinations but still their longing for roots, culture, identities, “home” and the constant struggle of make or retain connections with their homeland depicted in their cultural practices, arts, music, songs, folklore and literary manifestations.
The present conference aims to trace the history of girmitiya, their memories about home/land, in-betweenness, diaspora consciousness and lives, and experiences in new cultural surroundings. To initiate discussion we ask thought-provoking questions like Who are the Girmityas?, How their traditions and cultures also disrooted and travelled with them to colonies and preserved/changed/hybridized/assimilated/acculturated/ over some time?, How girmitya arts, music, songs, literature, and folklores both oral and written struggle depict their longing, cultures, believes, traditions, identity, memories, nostalgia, pain, and hardships?, How idea of home plays significant role in shaping and reshaping their imaginations, identities, and psychology in diasporic space? etc.
The manuscript should be original and unpublished in APA format, Times New Roman script with 12 font-size, 1.5 spacing including an Abstract in 300 words and six-seven keywords. The full-length paper should not exceed 7000 words with bibliography and a short bio note of the author (s). The full paper should be emailed to email@example.com on or before 15 March 2022. Selected papers presented in the conference will be published by reputed international publishers to bring this academic dream into reality.
Deadline for Submission of Abstract: 15 January 2022
Acceptance Notification: 1 March 2022
Deadline for full paper submission: 15 March 2022
Conference Dates: 27, 28 & 29 April 2022
Please send your letters, articles, photos and short videos to this free online Indo-Caribbean paper: firstname.lastname@example.org