Constructing Hindostani identities in Suriname in the Era of Indenture, 1873-1921
Beyond Being Koelies and Kantráki traces the self-positioning of Hindostani people in the face of British and Dutch colonial practices. Originally from India and shipped to the Dutch colony of Suriname after the abolition of slavery, the Hindostani served as contract labourers to keep the plantation system afloat from 1873. Central to the book is the perspective of the Hindostani themselves. We travel alongside the Hindostani from the moment they were recruited and their movement through the depots awaiting shipment, their travel experiences and encounters on ships en route to a new and unfamiliar land, their arrival in Suriname, relocation to plantations, and their dispersal following the end of their contracts, either as city workers, or farmers. All along, the book poses the question of identification: how did Hindostani make sense of themselves, their fellow Hindostani, and Surinamese society? Stereotyped images make way for insight in lived experience of lower and higher caste, Hindus and Muslims, men and women.