Indo-Caribbeans at Indentureship Conference in Fiji

The Fiji conference is organized and hosted by the Global Girmitya Institute (GGI) of Fiji that is headed by Prof. Ganesh Chand, former Vice Chancellor of Fiji National University and current VC of University of Solomon Islands. (Girmitya means indenture or forced labor). Dr. Chand conducted research in Guyana and Trinidad and on Caribbean nationals in New York a few decades ago. There are branches of GGI in several countries that experienced indentured labor from India.

Indo-Caribbeans at Indentureship Conference in Fiji
Photo : Dr. Vishnu Bisram

Several Indo-Caribbeans, including this writer, will present papers at a conference on indentureship and forced migration scheduled for Lautoka, Fiji, on July 15 thru 17.  The conference is part of the commemoration of the official end of indentureship.  Indentured labor from India started in 1828 to Reunion Island, Mauritius in 1834, Guyana in 1838, Trinidad in 1845, and other territories thereafter. Indians were sent as forced laborers to British, French, Dutch, and Danish territories. The official recruitment of indentured laborers came to an end on March 12, 1917. But indentureship labor itself came to an end on January 1, 1920 by an Act of Parliament.  As part of the commemoration of the centernary of the end of indentureship, conferences are planned in several societies (Fiji, Mauritius, Trinidad, Guyana, South Africa, and India) over the next year to reflect on slavery and indentureship and the current state of the descendants of forced labor. Similar conferences that commeorated the centenary end of recruitment were held in in 2017 in Fiji, Guyana, New York, Trinidad, India, Mauritius, South Africa, and Guadeloupe. Surinam held its cenetenary commemoration in June 2018. The idea for the centenary of end of recruitment was proposed in 2016 by this writer and coneferences were held in March 2017 in several locations where this writer presented papers. In 2018, this writer proposed centenary commemorations for official end of indentureship in Trinidad, Guyana, New York, and India and conferences have been planned for May next year in Guyana and Trinidad.

The Fiji conference is organized and hosted by the Global Girmitya Institute (GGI) of Fiji that is headed by Prof. Ganesh Chand, former Vice Chancellor of Fiji National University and current VC of University of Solomon Islands. (Girmitya means indenture or forced labor). Dr. Chand conducted research in Guyana and Trinidad and on Caribbean nationals in New York a few decades ago. There are branches of GGI in several countries that experienced indentured labor from India.

This Fiji conference is inter-disciplinary and inter-ethnic. It focuses on history and the contemporary reality of migration. Some 125 scholars from around the world have submitted abstracts for presentation of papers on a variety of subjects. These include comparative aspects of forced African, Indian, Chinese, and Pacific labor. The scope of presentations includes many countries impacted by slavery, indentureship, and forced migration. This writer will present on the state of relations between India and the descendants of indentured laborers in the diaspora.