The following article examines leadership roles among indentured East Indian women in British Guiana (now Guyana). The research shows that leadership roles among indentured East Indian women were not as broad as those among indentured East Indian men. The main reasons for this are that Indian women were recruited from the lower ranks of Indian society, which stymied leadership roles, and the authoritarian structure of the plantation system, which supported patriarchal trends. Moreover, the colonial records do not reveal leadership roles among Indian women because the records are based on imperial domination and exploitation, reflecting anecdotal rather than analytical evidence. The article shows that in spite of restrictions, indentured Indian women did engage in leadership roles on the sugar plantations but were not as open about these roles as their male counterparts were. Nonetheless, their engagement in leadership roles was instrumental in turning adverse circumstances to their advantage, and they used strategies that were not altogether obvious to the supporters of patriarchy.

Author Biography

Lomarsh Roopnarine, from Guyana, is Associate Professor of Caribbean and Latin American Studies at Jackson State University. Dr. Roopnarine has published over three dozen peer-reviewed articles on the Caribbean. He is the author of Indo-Caribbean Indenture: Resistance and Accommodation, Kingston: University of the West Indies Press, 2007. Dr. Roopnarine is currently writing a book on Caribbean Indian Migration and Identity (University Press of Mississippi).