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Coolie Woman: Book by Gaiutra Bahadur

Coolie Woman

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ISBN: 9789350096352    Publisher: Hachette Year of publishing: 2013     Format:  Hardback No of Pages: 312        Language: English
In 1903, a young woman sailed from India to Guiana as a 'coolie' - the British name for indentured laborers who replaced the newly emancipated slaves on sugar plantations all around the world. Pregnant...Read more
In 1903, a young woman sailed from India to Guiana as a 'coolie' - the British name for indentured laborers who replaced the newly emancipated slaves on sugar plantations all around the world. Pregnant and traveling alone, this woman, like so many of the indentured, disappeared into history. Now, in Coolie Woman, her great-granddaughter Gaiutra Bahadur embarks on a journey into the past to find her. Traversing three continents and trawling through countless colonial archives, Bahadur excavates not only her great-grandmother's story but also the repressed history of some quarter of a million other coolie women, shining a light on their complex lives. Many of these women were widows, runaways, or outcasts. Many fled mistreatment, even mortal danger, to migrate alone in epic sea voyages - traumatic 'middle passages' - only to face a life of hard labour, dismal living conditions, and, most notably, sexual exploitation. As Bahadur explains, however, it is precisely their sexuality that makes coolie women stand out as figures in history. In a borderland between freedom and slavery - and because these women were so greatly outnumbered by men - sex made them victims at the same time that it gave them sway. And it was a source, at times, of tremendous conflict, from machete murders to entire uprisings. Examining this and many other facets of these courageous women's lives, Coolie Woman is a meditation on survival, a gripping story of a double diaspora - from India to the West Indies in one century, Guyana to the United

States in the next - that is at once a search for one's roots and an exploration of gender and power, peril and opportunity.
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About the author: Gaiutra Bahadur
Gaiutra Bahadur is an American journalist and book critic who writes frequently about the culture and politics of global migration. Her reporting, criticism... Read more
Gaiutra Bahadur is an American journalist and book critic who writes frequently about the culture and politics of global migration. Her reporting, criticism and essays have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Washington Post Book World, the Nation, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Ms. Magazine and the (London) Observer, among other publications. A former daily newspaper reporter, she has reported on topics and topographies ranging from politics in Texas to the war in Iraq, post-Sept. 11 hate crimes to Hinjew weddings, Austin's high-tech immigrants to Arizona's nativists. Gaiutra studied literature at Yale and journalism at Columbia and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard. She was born in Guyana and emigrated to the United States with her family when she was six. She is the recipient of a 2013 New Jersey Council on the Arts Fellowship and a 2013 grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, a national feminist arts organization in the U.S. Both awards were won on the merits of the manuscript for Coolie Woman, her first full-length book.
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