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Plantation Crisis: Ruptures of Dalit Life in the Indian Tea Belt

November 16, 2023 @ 4:15 pm - 6:00 pm

By Jayaseelan Raj (King’s College London)

Webinar via Zoom & in-person seminar at Queen Mary University of London (PL 301, Peter Landin Teaching Rooms, QMUL, Bancroft Road, London E1 4DH, next to the Union Shop), jointly hosted with Centre on Labour, Sustainability & Global Production, QMUL

16 November, 4:15 – 6:00 pm UK time

Webinar recording available here: https://youtu.be/mrjetiCktHw

Drawing on thirty months of extensive ethnographic fieldwork in the Peermade and Munnar tea belts of the South Indian state of Kerala, Plantation Crisis explores the collapse of the plantation system and the abandonment of its workforce during the recent crisis in the Indian tea economy. The colonial era plantation system in India – and its two million strong workforce – has, since the mid-1990s, faced a series of ruptures due to neoliberal economic globalisation. In the South Indian state of Kerala, otherwise known for its labour-centric development initiatives, the Tamil speaking Dalit workforce, whose ancestors were brought to the plantations in the 19th century, were at the forefront of this crisis, which has profound impacts on their social identity and economic wellbeing. Out of the colonial history of racial capitalism and indentured migration, Plantation Crisis offers a complex understanding of how processes of social and political alienation unfold in moments of economic rupture. A major argument of Plantation Crisis is that the economic crisis connected with global developments has intensified what may be described as non-economic cultural processes in the continuing abjection of plantation Tamils.

About the presenter

Jayaseelan Raj is Senior Lecturer of Anthropology and Development at King’s College London, and a Fellow in the GRNPP at SOAS, University of London. He is the author of Plantation Crisis: Ruptures of Dalit Life in the Indian Tea Belt (UCL Press, 2022), and co-author of Ground Down by Growth: Tribe, Caste, Class and Inequality in Twenty-First Century India (Pluto Press, 2017). His research and writings focus on the plantation system and labour, caste, class, gender and ethnicity, agrarian capitalism and migration, and the state and Dalit question in India.

This seminar is part of the Autumn 2023 Agrarian Change Seminar Series and is co-organised by Journal of Agrarian Change and Centre on Labour, Sustainability & Global Production, QMUL


November 16, 2023
4:15 pm - 6:00 pm


Hybrid (Online & In-person)


Journal of Agrarian Change
Centre on Labour, Sustainability & Global Production, Queen Mary University of London