Finding a voice: Literary representations of indentured women

Sandhya Rao Mehta*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


While the complex threads of the historical narrative surrounding indenture continue to be investigated, their representations in the literature have been less comprehensively explored. As much of the pain of indenture is unwritten and undocumented, art comes to the aid of the subject, giving voice to the imagination and recreation of past experiences. It acts as a cathartic experience, capable of facing, questioning as well as coming to terms with the past. The process of remembering, expressing and documenting has created spaces for those whose struggles and narratives have remained marginal in literary history and critique. This paper will explore the multiple ways in which gender in indenture is being documented, archived and represented through a range of writers who have taken on the task of exploring new ways of presenting the past and filling in the silences of the unrepresented. In doing so, new ways of conceptualizing transoceanic feminism are presented, going beyond the binary understanding ofWestern and Indian models of gender. By giving agency to imagined characters and contexts, the literature assumes a subversive voice and becomes a causal agent for change.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIndentured and Post-Indentured Experiences of Women in the Indian Diaspora
PublisherSpringer Singapore
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9789811511776
ISBN (Print)9789811511769
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Creative sources
  • Indentured women
  • Jahaji
  • Kalapani motikor
  • Oral narratives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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