Sugar, Sugar

The Natal Baby - Illustration by Mireille Fauchon

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Hear the bittersweet tales of Indian migrant workers

Life in the British Empire’s sugar cane fields was anything but sweet. Music, dramatic readings and conversation bring to life the rich and diverse history of India’s migrant workers.

When emancipated African slaves left their hard labour in the British Empire’s sugar cane fields, plantation owners set their sights on Indian workers. So it was that in early 1838, the first ships set sail from Calcutta and Madras, full of men and women searching for new beginnings in Guyana, Trinidad, South Africa, Mauritius and Fiji.

Lainy Malkani, author of Sugar, Sugar, Bittersweet Tales of Indian Migrant Workers is joined by Professor Clem Seecharan, Emeritus Professor of Caribbean History, to reveal the history behind India’s migrant workers and one of the most abundant and controversial commodities in the world. Inspired by the British Library’s historical archive dating 1838-1917 and the living memories of the descendants of indentured workers, the evening provides a unique insight into lives rarely explored in modern British history.

Professor Clem Seecharan, is a writer and distinguished historian of the Indo-Caribbean experience, as well as a historian of West Indies cricket. Originally from Guyana, he is now Emeritus Professor of History, London Metropolitan University where he was the Head of Caribbean Studies for nearly 20 years. In 2003 he was awarded a Certificate of Distinction by the Guyana High Commission (London) ‘in recognition of his achievement in his profession in the United Kingdom'.

Lainy Malkani is a London born journalist with Indo-Caribbean roots. She is the writer, broadcaster and presenter of the Social History Hub podcast which is a series of interviews designed to bring the stories of unsung heroes to life. She has written for the British Library, the Commonwealth and the BBC. Her two-part series for Radio 4, Sugar, Saris and Green Bananas, traced the story of Indian sugar workers through the memories of the descendents of those now living in the UK. Her latest book, Sugar, Sugar, is a contemporary collection of short stories which reveals a rich and culturally diverse history of India’s migrant workers. Inspired by historical documents and the living memories of the descendants of indentured workers, Sugar, Sugar, spans five continents, travelling through time uncovering inspiring tales of courage and resilience. Lainy is married with two children and lives in North West London. Her cross-cultural roots; from Britain, India and the Caribbean has been a great source of her work, both as a writer and journalist.

Enjoy food and drink purchased from the Knowledge Centre Bar from 18.00 and after the event until the Bar closes at 22.00.


Name: Sugar, Sugar
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: Full Price: £10.00
Member: £7.00
Senior 60+: £8.00
Student: £7.00
Registered Unemployed: £7.00
Under 18: £7.00
Friend of the BL: £7.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546