Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture by Gaiutra Bahadur is published by C Hurst and Co priced £ It is available from the Guardian. In , a young woman sailed from India to Guiana as a “coolie”—the British name for indentured laborers who replaced the newly emancipated slaves on. Coolie Woman. The Odyssey of Indenture. Gaiutra Bahadur. SHORTLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE ‘A genealogical page-turner interwoven with a.

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Ina young woman sailed from India to Guiana as a “coolie”–the British name for indentured laborers who replaced the newly emancipated slaves on sugar plantations all around the world.

Gaiutra Bahadur is an American journalist and book critic who writes frequently about the culture and politics of global migration. Shunned by society, and sometimes in mortal danger, many coolie women were either runaways, widows, or outcasts.

Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture

It probes into the past and traces a continuum from there in which to locate the present. Everywhere there were luxuriant trees providing shade ondenture beauty: But she is careful to stress that coolie ships were not slave ships; indentured women also played games, sang, worshipped, fell in love and began the process of re-inventing themselves for their new lives.

Archived from the original on 24 September Jun 06, Agnes Goyvaerts rated it it was amazing. The Odyssey of Indenture”, by Gaiutra Bahadur”. Indentute trees enfolded elegant wooden woamn with verandahs for taking the air and jalousies for letting it flow. Sarah Philips rated it it was amazing Jan 21, Bahadur’s ancestors from India to the Caribbean.

The stealing of the voices of indentured women, born into the wrong class, race and gender to write indenyure into history, was structural.

Bahadur sheds light on the subaltern lives of these women: Pankaj Mishra, author of From the Ruins of Empire. Aug 08, Nicolette added it. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Poor production values can take away from a book in such subtle, beneath the surface ways – making it a harder, denser book to navigate than it actually is.


Extremely well researched and written. This spellbinding account of a story that needed to be told is highly recommended. I haven’t read much about indentured labor odyszey the British Empire but immediately want to after this book.

It is solidly researched and as such it reveals the difficulty of understanding the human lives concealed within documents.

Coolie Woman – Wikipedia

The writer excavates new ore from old seams. So which was her story? Bahadur’s family left the island, whereas most of mine still remain in Jamaica. My book focuses on the women in this group, two-thirds of whom had quit India without men by their sides. Reviewed by The Independent 6 Nov o To enter their unknown and to some extent unknowable history, I had to turn to alternative, unofficial sources.

Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture by Gaiutra Bahadur

No real transition or flow. It seemed to jump around a lot from one person’s story to the next. Kudos to the writer for having odyssey an outstanding job at bringing to life the heart wrenching story of the coolies.

As Bahadur indentire, however, it is precisely their indentuer that makes coolie women stand out as figures in history. It is a riveting read and if anyone was compelled to trace their family history, this will be a hard act to follow.

Oct 15, Reema rated it it was amazing Shelves: Want to Read saving…. Leaving for the colonies, was maybe a chance at a new life – even if this process was fraught with its own set of injustices and being taken advantage of.

Coolie Woman is, as such, a speculative history.


It shows, with understated literary power, the bitterly paradoxical nature of colonial modernity: During that time Indian women were subjected to very strict religious and family rules. Women slaves — Guyana — History — 20th century. However I was never privy to the details of the larg This book caught my eye because I recently started doing genealogical research on my own family; and my paternal grandmother was the granddaughter of indentured East Indians.

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If I had to say something, some spots could have used an edit as they can drag, but, as I have said, the information is worth the extra couple pages of labor. Her background in journalism took precedence in this case, but the cast of characters and personal stories of tragedy and even occasional triumph would successfully lend coopie to fiction.

Examining this and many other facets of these remarkable women’s lives, Coolie Woman is a meditation on survival, a gripping story of a double diaspora–from India to the West Indies in one century, Guyana to cpolie United States in the next–that is at once a search for one’s roots and an exploration of gender and power, peril and opportunity”–Publisher description.

The Odyssey of Indenture is a genealogical page-turner interwoven with a compelling, radical history wkman empire cooile from the perspective of indentured women.

Dec 03, Maia Ellis rated it really liked it. And the unfortunate situation of coolie women who were in demand as wives due to the unequal gender ratios brought about by indenture; yet suffered from the cultural norm of not pursuing education A waylaid religious pilgrim?