Asian Studies: South Asia. History: General History. Latin American Studies. You may purchase this title at these fine bookstores. Outside the USA, see our international sales information.

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Asian Studies: South Asia. History: General History. Latin American Studies. You may purchase this title at these fine bookstores. Outside the USA, see our international sales information. University of Chicago Press: E. About Contact News Giving to the Press. Sexual Fields Adam Isaiah Green. Disruptive Acts Mary Louise Roberts. Pregnant and traveling alone, this woman, like so many coolies, disappeared into history.

Shunned by society, and sometimes in mortal danger, many coolie women were either runaways, widows, or outcasts. As Bahadur explains, however, it is precisely their sexuality that makes coolie women stand out as figures in history. Greatly outnumbered by men, they were able to use sex with their overseers to gain various advantages, an act that often incited fatal retaliations from coolie men and sometimes larger uprisings of laborers against their overlords.

Complex and unpredictable, sex was nevertheless a powerful tool. Table of Contents. This spellbinding account of a story that needed to be told is highly recommended. The collective voice of the jehaji behen ship sisters has been barely audible across the centuries, until now. It is solidly researched and as such it reveals the difficulty of understanding the human lives concealed within documents.

Those who wish to find romantic myths in the past to power deeply conservative ideas about the present, and the role of women in an imagined future, will find little to work with here.

But it also shows that in that messy complexity there is, then as now, resilience, innovation, renewal and courage. The author succeeds in presenting otherwise underexamined or overlooked details of the lives of these women in a very compelling narrative, woven from skeins of meticulous details but never pedantic in its presentation.

Drawing from a notable range of pertinent primary and secondary sources, the work can definitely be used as a source of valuable corroborative details in both academic and nonacademic engagements with the Indian indenture system. And through it she breaks a historical silence, and gives untold truths a voice.

Bahadur handles this history without compromise, imbuing it with prismatic context, deepening the true stories that can be told about the journeys that so many women undertook. Salil Tripathi Independent. Yes, she can. Through the story of Sheojari, Bahadur shows how. Andrea Stuart Literary Review. Adam Hochschild, author of Bury the Chains. Pankaj Mishra, author of From the Ruins of Empire. But this is no simple account of victimhood. It shows, with understated literary power, the bitterly paradoxical nature of colonial modernity: the unbearable dialectic between enslavement and liberation that many unsung millions underwent in their private lives.

Teju Cole, author of Open City. Richard Drayton, King's College London. Neel Mukherjee, author of A Life Apart. It is also a uniquely affecting piece of work. John Agard, author of Half-Caste. The writer excavates new ore from old seams. Coolie Woman is such a book, destined for a unique place in the multi-mirror of Caribbean culture. Chicago Blog : Sociology. Events in Sociology. Sign Up. Twitter Facebook Youtube Tumblr. Contact About Privacy.


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Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Gaiutra Bahadur brings us an elegantly written family history framed by larger tropes of indentured contracts, migratory livelihoods, female subjectivity, colonial violence, memory, and belonging. Her empathetic reading against the grain seeks to balance and redress that historical record. This book was written by a Guyanese-American journalist whose lack of a Ph.


Coolie Woman

The woman, who claimed no husband, was pregnant and travelling alone. A century later, her great-granddaughter embarks on a journey into the past, hoping to solve a mystery: what made her leave her country? And had she also left behind a man? Gaiutra Bahadur, an American journalist, pursues traces of her great-grandmother over three continents.

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