CFP Literature of Girmitya: History, Culture and Identity

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Call for Papers
Edited Book
Literature of Girmitya: History, Culture and Identity
The South Asian labour migration started with the introduction of indentured labour system
in 1838. This labour migration tried to fill the gap of African slaves who denied working for
colonial powers after the abolition of slavery in 1833. More than 1.5 million men and
women migrated to different colonies from the Indian subcontinent. The experiences of
indentured labour migration from South Asia reflect the severe violence which was inflicted
on labourers. The Girmitya consciousness explains the process of the deceitful recruitment
process, corporal punishment, hardships etc The famous historian, David Northrup drags
our attention to the fact the indenture labour migration can be classified as labour diaspora
where people from the Indian subcontinent were pushed to migrate different British colonies
by signing an agreement of five years.
The term “girmitya" is a malapropism of an English word “agreement” under Indentured
Labour System (1834 – 1920) during British Colonial rule in India. This word is derived
from “girmit” a word used by the indentured labourers, mostly from north India, who could
not pronounce the English word “agreement”. The Abolition of Slavery Act (1833) has
created a grave scarcity of labours in European colonies. Hence, South Asia became an
alternate source for ‘girmitya’ – a ‘contract labours’. These labours were also known as
“coolies”, “Jahajis”, “Indentured Labour” or “Indian Labourers” who were forcefully and
voluntarily taken from colonial India (today’s Pakistan and Bangladesh) and scattered
across the British colonies in Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, East Africa and in the Caribbean,
mostly Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Jamaica to work mainly on sugar cane
plantations. Approximately 6 million (Clarke 1990, N. Gangulee 1974, Northrup D. 1995,
Brij V Lal 1983 They were also scattered in South Asian and South-East Asian
countries like Burma (Myanmar), Malaya (Malaysia) and Cyclone (Sri Lanka) mostly from
South and Central India, Bengal (including today’s Bangladesh) and Karachi and Lahore
(Pakistan). Indian men and women commenced a long and perilous voyage across seven
oceans to work as ‘bonded’/ ‘contract’ labour. However, they and their narratives of terrible
journeys, hardships and adjustment with a new culture are faded with time. Various
opportunities and adverse circumstances compelled an individual to leave the homeland.
The South Asian diasporic community form close-knit ethnic and religious values with
strong social structure and cultural traditions that help in maintaining the sense of
togetherness and ancestral memory. Though they were very much heterogeneous, this also
did not break their communal harmony.
With the rise of globalization and ICT, these scattered people of Indian origin are reconnected
to their home/land and rise of the concept of diaspora and diaspora studies retaken
up this subject for study and research the neglected diverse heritage of colonial and
postcolonial India, Indian history, literature and identities in transnational space. Thus, the
proposed book is an attempt to bring the narratives of girmityas in the mainstream scholarly
debates and discussions of migration and diaspora from South Asia in general and India in
particular. It will critically analyze various literary forms of Girmityas. Although they have
migrated centuries back, absorbed and assimilated and got citizenships of respective places
of destinations but still their longing for roots, culture, identities, “home” and the constant
struggle of make or retain connections with their homeland depicted in their cultural
practices, arts, music, songs, folklore and literary manifestations. The present book aims to
trace the history of girmityas, their memories about home/land, in-betweenness, diaspora
consciousness and lives, and experiences in new cultural surroundings. To initiate discussion
we ask thought-provoking questions like Who are the Girmityas?, How their traditions and
cultures also disrooted and travelled with them to colonies and
preserved/changed/hybridized/assimilated/acculturated/ over some time?, How girmitya
arts, music, songs, literature, and folklores both oral and written struggle depict their
longing, cultures, believes, traditions, identity, memories, nostalgia, pain, and hardships?,
How idea of home plays significant role in shaping and reshaping their imaginations,
identities, and psychology in diasporic space? etc. The scholarly research papers are invited
to contribute to this interdisciplinary academic endeavour from the following areas such as:
• History and Girmitya
• Girmityas in South Asia
• Indenture, Kangani and Maistry system
• Colonialism, Postcolonialism and Girmitya
• Freedom Movement and Girmitya
• Partitions and Girmitya
• Literature, Culture and Girmitya
• Sociology and Girmitya
• Folklore/Oral tradition and Girmitya
• Girmit Ideology
• Girmitya Studies
• Identity, Memories and Home
• Girmitya Film and other art forms
• Political representation and activism of Girmitya
• Issues of Generation: Cultural Change or Searching Roots
• Assimilation, Acculturation, Hybridity
• Media, Film and Girmitya
The manuscript should be original and unpublished proper MLA 8th edition format with
Times New Roman script with 12 font-size including an Abstract in 300 words and sixseven
keywords. The full-length paper should not exceed 10,000 words with bibliography
along with a short bio note of the author. The paper should be emailed to Neha Singh or Chapparban Sajaudeen on or
before 15 February 2020. The Book will be published by reputed international publishers to
bring this academic dream into reality.

Editors’ Name

1. Mr Chapparban Sajaudeen, Assistant Professor, Centre for Diaspora Studies,
Central University of Gujarat, Email Id:

2. Ms Neha Singh, Academic Associate, IL & FS Educational Technology, New Delhi,
Email Id:

Contact Info: 
Chapparban Sajaudeen "Shuja" 
Assistant Professor 
Centre for Diaspora Studies (CDS)
Central University of Gujarat,
Sector 29, Gandhinagar - 382030, Gujarat, India.
Mobile: +91 9106104647
Contact Email: