This book presents a historical account of plantations in India
in the context of the modern world economy. It brings history up to
the present, thereby showing how history can assist in explaining
contemporary conditions and trends. The author focuses on labour
and economic development problems and uses the World Systems theory
so as to demonstrate the practical utility of the theory and its
limitations as a guide to historical research.
Based on extensive archival research, the book interprets the
dynamics of plantation capitalism by focusing on the work, life and
struggle of the dalits on plantations in colonial and post-colonial
South India as they evolved from the mid-19th century. It argues
that these elements of the plantation life-world were fashioned by
the specific characteristics of the workers' location within the
capitalist world-economy, the then prevailing local social
structure and the scheme of disciplining to which the workers were
subjected to. Treating the relations among various social forces -
the planting communities, the oppressed communities (dalits in
India), the regional and national state, and the Imperial regime,
this book fills a gap in academic literature on capitalism,
economic development, and globalization.
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