Mediated (Im)mobility: Indian Labour Migration to Ceylon under the Kangany System (c. 1850–1940)

  • Ritesh Kumar Jaiswal


Ceylon’s contribution to a new paradigm of global and Indian history of labour and migration is twofold. First, the study of Ceylon helps to shift our focus from the overarching shadow of Indentured colonies in the Caribbean, Pacific, and western Indian Ocean—which have been the dominant regions of study of Indian labour migration—towards the British colonies in the Indian Ocean’s Bay of Bengal rim, which were the largest recipients of colonial Indian migration. Second, after Burma, Ceylon was the largest recipient of Indian labourers during the period 1840–1940, with approximately eight million individuals. The aim of this chapter is to scrutinize and reappraise the parameters that have conventionally defined the characteristics of Indian migration during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This chapter critically explores the intricate pattern, functioning, and nature of the Indian emigration to Ceylon which took place largely under the informal regulations of the Kangany system. It also intends to complicate the Eurocentric perspective on non-European/Indian migration in the framework of global migration studies.



Annual Administration Report by the Controller of Labour


Annual Report of the Agent of Government of India

C&I Dept.

Commerce and Industry Department


Ceylon Labour Commission

EHL Dept.

Education, Health and Land Department


Government of India


Indian Emigration Act

L&O Dept.

Land and Overseas Department


National Archives of India


Pioneer Labour Force

R&A Dept.

Revenue and Agriculture Department


Royal Commission on Labour

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ritesh Kumar Jaiswal
    • 1
  1. 1.University of DelhiNew DelhiIndia

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