Fighting Free to Become Unfree Again
The Social History of Bondage and Neo-Bondage of Labour in India
Labour bondage is a major feature of the peasant economies that have dominated the subcontinent of South Asia from an unrecorded pre-colonial past until the post-colonial present. Discussing when, why and how servitude originated on the tribal–peasant frontier in West India and was instituted in the rural landscape, this book draws on engagement in anthropological fieldwork from the 1960s onwards to offer a historical perspective on the collapse of bondage. The author argues that the globalized frame of capitalism does not allow for a transition to free labour in the world at large. Subjected to dispossession and to a lack of employment and income, a sizeable workforce at the bottom of the pile remains stuck in neo-bondage. A prologue to the book points out the different pathways imposed on labour by capital in the global North and South in the age of imperialism and neo-imperialism.