‘There are no two things in the world more different from each other than East-Indian and West Indian-slavery’ (Robert Inglis, House of Commons Debate, 1833).
In Slavery, Abolitionism and Empire in India, 1772–1843, Andrea Major asks why, at a time when East India Company expansion in India, British abolitionism and the missionary movement were all at their height, was the existence of slavery in India so often ignored, denied or excused? By exploring Britain's ambivalent relationship with both real and imagined slaveries in India, and the official, evangelical and popular discourses which surrounded them, she seeks to uncover the various political, economic and ideological agendas that allowed East Indian slavery to be represented as qualitatively different from its trans-Atlantic counterpart. In doing so, she uncovers tensions in the relationship between colonial policy and the so-called 'civilising mission', elucidating the intricate interactions between humanitarian movements, colonial ideologies and imperial imperatives in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. The work draws on a range of sources from Britain and India to provide a trans-national perspective on this little known facet of the story of slavery and abolition in the British Empire, uncovering the complex ways in which Indian slavery was encountered, discussed, utilised, rationalised, and reconciled with the economic, political and moral imperatives of an empire whose focus was shifting to the East.
Andrea Major is Lecturer in Wider World History at the University of Leeds.
List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Some Prominent Figures in the British Parliament, the Abolitionist Movement and the East India Company
Part I. Other Slaveries
1. ‘To Call a Slave a Slave’: Recovering Indian Slavery
Part II. European Slaveries
Introduction: Slavery and Colonial Expansion in India
2. ‘A Shameful and Ruinous Trade’: European Slave-trafficking and the East India Company
3. Bengalis, Caffrees and Malays: European Slave-holding and Early Colonial Society
Part III. Indian Slaveries
Introduction: Locating Indian Slaveries
4. ‘This Household Servitude’: Domestic Slavery and Immoral Commerce
5. ‘Open and Professed Stealers of Children’: Slave-trafficking and the Boundaries of the Colonial State
Part IV. Imagined Slaveries
Introduction: Evangelical Connections
7. ‘Satan’s Wretched Slaves’: Indian Society and the Evangelical Imagination
8. ‘The Produce of the East by Free Men’: Indian Sugar and Indian Slavery in British Abolitionist Debates, 1793–1833
Conclusion: ‘Do Justice to India’: Abolitionists and Indian Slavery, 1839–1843
February 21, 2012
Liverpool Studies in International Slavery 6