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The Leonidas Fijians : a minor history

Mishra, Sudesh R. (2014) The Leonidas Fijians : a minor history. The Journal of Pacific History, 49 (3). pp. 283-300. ISSN 0022-3344

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In Fiji’s Indian Migrants, K.L. Gillion remarks en passant on five Fijians who travelled with the first batch of Indian coolies from Calcutta to Fiji in 1879. The men were recruited to work as topazes, or menials answerable to the ship’s surgeon, aboard the ship Leonidas, in exchange for a passage home. While Gillion fails to dwell on the presence in Calcutta of these Islanders from the South Seas, his provocative aside troubles the popular view of Fijians as sedentary subjects of a colonial policy that discouraged the disruption of traditional life-worlds. It also calls into question the general perception that girmit or ‘indentured service’ was an exclusively Indian affair. Although they were not indentured to colonial plantations, the Islanders shared with the coolies the micropolitical spaces of the depot, the ship and the quarantine station. They participated in the regimes and regulations of the indenture system. These Fijians unsettle two distinct accounts of history by not conforming to either. They furnish another instance of Islander mobility in the time of modernity.

Item Type: Journal Article
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D880 Developing Countries
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE) > School of Language, Arts and Media
Depositing User: Generic Account
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2014 23:53
Last Modified: 11 May 2016 03:30

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