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South Indian Migration, c. 1800–1950

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Chapter Summary

The migration of South Indians to Southeast Asia was of overwhelming importance in the larger history of Indian emigration in the colonial period. This chapter seeks to examine South Indian networks of migration between 1800 and 1950. Labor migration overseas was an important and distinctive feature of South India's migration regime. From the second millennium of the Common Era, South Indian society exhibited distinct patterns of both mobility and immobility. New forms of social immobility accompanied a rise in other forms of mobility. Movement towards new areas of plantation production was most significant. The opening of new agricultural frontiers beyond India's shores, in Ceylon, Malaya and Burma, sparked a massive increase in South Indian mobility, beginning with migration to Ceylon. Routes of South Indian migration were oriented across the Bay of Bengal.

Keywords: colonial period; labor migration; South Indian migration



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