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Indentured Labor, Caribbean Sugar Chinese and Indian Migrants to the British West Indies, 1838-1918 by Walton Look Lai

Indentured Labor, Caribbean Sugar Chinese and Indian Migrants to the British West Indies, 1838-1918

Part of the Johns Hopkins Studies in Atlantic History and Culture Series


Indentured Labor, Caribbean Sugar Chinese and Indian Migrants to the British West Indies, 1838-1918 by Walton Look Lai

In Indentured Labor, Caribbean Sugar Walton Look Lai offers the first comprehensive study of Asian immigration and the indenture system in the entire British West Indies-with particular emphasis on the experiences of indentured laborers in the major receiving colonies of British Guyana, Trinidad, and Jamaica. Exploring living and working conditions as well as the makeup of immigrant communities and their cultures, Look Lai offers a dialectical pluralist model of Caribbean acculturation that contrasts with the more familiar melting pot or pure pluralist model.


A work of rich scholarship... Look Lai proves an adept and perceptive labor historian. His sensitive depiction of the world of the indentured East Asian workers of Trinidad and British Guyana is easily the best available: it is a notable achievement that sets a high standard for future research on the topic. * Labor History * This carefully researched book... thoughtfully compares the experiences and responses of the Chinese and Indians as they settled in and became part of these colonial societies, the former often moving into trade and the later largely remaining in agriculture... A well written study, highly recommended for students of Asian-American and Caribbean studies, and migration history. * Choice * Look Lai's excellent book... is the first 'integrated
history of Asian migration to the Caribbean which incorporates (and often compares) the experiences of both Asian groups

... illuminating an important chapter in Caribbean history. * Journal of Caribbean History * Important not only for the study of Atlantic history and culture, but also for the comparative study of migration, labor coercion, and the effects of labor segmentation in the labor process... It is an excellent book, thoroughly researched, clearly organized, and well written, and it deserves a wide audience. * International Labor and Working Class History * Should be required reading for Caribbeanists, scholars of Asian diasporas, and labor historians. * New West Indian Guide * A most welcome addition to the growing literature on Asian migration to the West Indies... well structured and well written. * International Review of Social History * Sound in its scholarship and detailed in its findings... A fine piece of work. -- Brian L. Moore * Business History Review * Well-researched and lucidly written... Look Lai's excellent study puts us all in his debt. * Sunday Guardian (Trinidad) * Indentured Labor, Caribbean Sugar provides fascinating detail on the origin and implementation of the indentured labor system in British Guiana, Trinidad, and Jamaica... filled with a solid array of well-researched details. -- Surendra Bhana * SAFUNDI: The Journal of South African and American Studies *

About the Author

Walton Look Lai is Lecturer in History at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago. He is a former Rockefeller Foundation fellow at the Asian American Center, Queen's College, City University of New York.

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Book Info

Publication date

29th January 2004


Walton Look Lai

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Johns Hopkins University Press


400 pages


General & world history
Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900
Sociology: work & labour
20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000
Slavery & abolition of slavery
Colonialism & imperialism
National liberation & independence, post-colonialism



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