—Most historical works have focused on the
plantation as an economic venture which launched Assam on
the passage of modernity with the advent of capitalism or as a
political space defining the struggle between the workers and
capitalists. This paper, however, views plantations as a political
space where colonial ideas surrounding the ‘modern’ and the
‘primitive’ gets entrenched. This would help in understanding
the deeper ramifications of the present condition of the labour
community of plantations also known as ‘coolie’ who are mired
in poverty, harsh working conditions and their treatment as
outsiders in Assam even in the post-independence era of the
country. It explores a complex process of subjugation which
created and legitimized the kind of labour specific to the tea
plantations of Assam. The paper views the plantations as a
space where the relationship between the ruler and the ruled,
the powerful and the powerless gets intensified.
—Coolie, modern, primitive, tea plantations.
Anisha Bordoloi is with the Department of History, Faculty of Social
Sciences University of Delhi, New Delhi (e-mail:
Cite: Anisha Bordoloi, " Creating the 'Primitive': A Study of British Colonialism and Migrant 'Coolies' in the Tea Plantations of Assam Valley, 1860-1900," International Journal of Social Science and Humanity vol. 5, no. 9, pp. 812-815, 2015.