Durban’s inaugural indenture symposium
THIS year marks 100 years since the Viceroy of India announced the end of the system of indenture, which was enforced by the British from the 1830s to meet labour needs following the end of slavery, and resulted in the displacement of some 3.5 million Indians to various British, French and Dutch colonies, including Natal.
To mark this event, the 1860 Heritage Centre in Derby Street will host a symposium on November 4 from 8.30am to 3.30pm aimed at looking at the significance of this milestone in history.
The symposium conveners, Kalpana Hiralal, Betty Govinden and Selvan Naidoo, said that indenture, like slavery, continued to shape the history and psyche of people and it was worth reflecting on the impact and legacy of indenture from different vantage points.
It was also vital, they said, to look at its political, social and cultural significance, both locally and globally.
They are hoping the presentations made will, in due course, be collated into a published book.
In addition to academics delivering papers on the topic, they hope this inaugural symposium will also contribute to the museum developing into a space for critical deliberations on different aspects of the past.
Speakers include Uma-DhupeliaMesthrie, professor of history at the University of the Western Cape; Dilip Menon, director of the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa at Wits University; Rajend Mesthrie, professor of English at UCT; and regular contributors to public debate, Brij Maharaj and Ashwin Desai. Themes for the papers are:
The Indenture Heritage: An evaluation and interpretation of the scholarly heritage and its significance for the present.
New Perspectives on the Indian Diaspora: Will explore alternative perspectives on the Indian diaspora.
Indenture and Democracy: On issues and concerns that are relevant to social cohesion practices that foster good relationships.
Queries about the symposium can be e-mailed to: