A discourse of care undergirded colonial political rationality during the era of Indian indenture-ship in the Caribbean. In this essay the voyage of the Salsette from Calcutta to Trinidad in 1858 serves as an entry point into a broader conversation on the repeated archival invocation of care toward coolies during their passage to the plantation colonies. Care, which is synonymous with neither affect nor benevolence, refers to a series of techniques aimed at managing bodies traded for profit. Analyzing the apparatuses through which care for indentured servants was administered, the essay illuminates the racialized and caste-based knowledge systems that were mobilized to “make live” the reserve of potential labor force aboard. Concomitantly, it reads the colonial archive for moments in which indentured servants register their presence through their responses to being or refusal to be cared for and considers the stakes of such refusal for the colonial capitalist project.

You do not currently have access to this content.