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Bondage in freedom, colonial plantations in Southern India c 1797-1947


  • K. Ravi Raman

    (Centre for Development Studies)


Opposing views persist with regard to the emergence of plantations in southern India and the transfer of slave labour to these plantations: the abolition of slavery as an end in itself and, second, as a means to an end. In spite of the fact that slavery had been abolished by the mid-nineteenth century, workers on plantations found themselves no better off than slaves and bondsmen - so intensive and painful was the ill treatment meted out to them. The workers with their newly realised freedom from the feudal relations spared no means to revolt against the new Masters. Yet, a truly systemic transformation failed to materialise. The present paper attempts to unravel the constituents of changing forms of bondage and the coercive/disciplinary strategies adopted by the planters which in effect gave rise to a new labour regime. It also attempts to unravel the way in which the reborn `slaves' unleashed their resistance at the capitalist work sites.

Suggested Citation

  • K. Ravi Raman, 2002. "Bondage in freedom, colonial plantations in Southern India c 1797-1947," Centre for Development Studies, Trivendrum Working Papers 327, Centre for Development Studies, Trivendrum, India.
  • Handle: RePEc:ind:cdswpp:327

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    More about this item


    slavery; plantations; colonial state; punishment; labour; outbursts;

    JEL classification:

    • B25 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary; Austrian; Stockholm School
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N50 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N55 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Asia including Middle East


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