Centre for Development Practice and Research, Patna

TISS Patna Lecture Series on Migration, Lecture 14

Special Lecture / Workshop


Date and time: Feb. 19, 2018 12:00PM - 1:30PM

Venue: SAP Building, History Department, Patna University, Ashok Rajpath, Patna.


Title: Plantation, production, and reproduction: Contests in later nineteenth century

Speaker: Geetisha Dasgupta

This paper looks at the plantation as a contested space, between labor and capital, over the labor process and reproduction, at various points after Abolition of slavery in the British Empire. It is proposed that the later nineteenth century plantation was a pivotal organization of production, on the model of which a plethora of coerced, constrained, and transitional labor forms originated; and all of these forms negotiated the rights to their own productive as well as reproductive labor in manners distinctive from the world of metropolitan free wage labor; but were mutually reconstitutive. In this light, the paper is an attempt at reassessing the details of tussle over colonial plantation capital’s access to adequate amount of work for which, a whole range of global processes like migration, and contract were mobilized. We will compare plantations in various regions, inside and outside the Empire that produced a multitude of commodities, like the Caribbean for sugar and coffee, cotton in southern American, coffee in Ceylon and Java, and tea in India, etc. to understand the location of the plantation worker, employed in institutions like slave labor, indenture contract labor, or forced peasant production that populated the production areas. The final aim will be to point out that we need a framework to understand the problems plantations pose if we aim to draw a clear line between its labor process, the space for the same, and the reproductive domain of plantation workers—which may help in seeing the idea of work in the light of plantations.

About the Speaker

Geetisha Dasgupta studies free/unfree labor in plantation production. She is particularly interested in the idea of “work” in plantation production of sugar and tea using indenture contract labor. She is pursuing her doctoral studies from SUNY-Binghamton, and works as a Lecturer in the School of Policy and Governance, Azim Premji University.