When Great Britain abolished slavery in 1833, sugar planters in
the Caribbean found themselves facing the prospect of paying
working wages to their former slaves. Cheaper labor existed
elsewhere in the empire, however, and plantation owners, along with
the home and colonial governments, quickly began importing the
first of what would eventually be hundreds of thousands of
indentured laborers from India.
Madhavi Kale draws extensively on the archival materials from the
period and argues that imperial administrators sanctioned and
authorized distinctly biased accounts of postemancipation labor
conditions and participated in devaluing and excluding alternative
accounts of slavery. As she does this she highlights the ways in
which historians, by relying on these biased sources, have
perpetuated the acceptance of a privileged perspective on imperial
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