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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The passenger Indian as worker: Indian immigrants in Cape Town in the early twentieth century
Author:Dhupelia-Mesthrie, UmaISNI
Periodical:African Studies
Geographic terms:South Africa
The Cape
Subjects:migrant workers
labour history
Abstract:The article argues that the term passenger Indian has contributed to a divisive understanding of migration from the Indian subcontinent to South Africa. It has led to the stereotype of the wealthy Gujarati trader and it excludes much. By focusing on Indian migrants in Cape Town, the argument is made that the term must be redefined to include workers who came from not only Gujarat but also from Maharashtra and the Punjab and that those marginalized by simplified definitions need to be given a place in the historiography. Biographical sketches of workers are provided freeing one from the narrow chronological choices historians have made and include family where possible. Details are provided of what kind of employment Indian immigrants found in Cape Town and the severe effects of the permit system and immigration laws on the free mobility of Indians. The article points to the migrant (and circular) nature of Indian labour in Cape Town with consequences for wives and children in the villages of India and argues that parallels may be made with African migrant labour. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]