“Indo + Caribbean: The creation of a culture” Exhibition
The Museum of London Docklands was founded in 2003, with the main focus of highlighting the history of the River Thames, the growth of the Port of London, and the docks’ historical ties to the Atlantic slave trade. The museum features exhibitions and events that explore the rich history and cultural diversity of the area. The upcoming exhibition, Indo + Caribbean: The creation of a culture, is set to be unveiled in May 2023. In this article, we will explore the purpose of this exhibition and what visitors can expect.
The Purpose of Indo + Caribbean: The creation of a culture
The purpose of the Indo + Caribbean: The creation of a culture exhibition is to explore the underrepresented history of Indian indentured laborers in the British Caribbean and to shed light on the Indo-Caribbean culture that exists in London today. The exhibition is a significant milestone as it is the first time that the history of the Indo-Caribbean community has been explored in a major exhibition in a British museum.
The History of Indian Indentured Laborers
The shortage of cheap labor in the Caribbean islands in the 1800s was caused by the abolition of the slave trade in 1807 and the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833. This resulted in the recruitment of Indian indentured laborers, with around 450,000 Indians taken to the Caribbean islands between 1838-1917. In return for working in the Caribbean for three to five years, they received transport, a minimum wage, and some basic provisions. Indentured servitude was officially banned in British India in 1917, following pressure from freedom fighters such as Mahatma Gandhi.
Exploring the Exhibition
The display explores the transition from enslaved African labor to Indian indenture, including letters petitioning the government from planter Sir John Gladstone. It also delves into the journey from India to the Caribbean, with the poor conditions on board and the strong bonds forged between migrants as they crossed the Kala Pani or ‘dark waters.’ Life in the Caribbean for indentured laborers was difficult, and the impact of their arrival is explored in detail.
The exhibition also highlights the stories and memories of Indo-Caribbean Londoners today, exploring migration to the United Kingdom and drawing on personal stories from London’s Indo-Caribbean community. The display features photos, jewelry, film, and artwork from London’s Indo-Caribbean community, providing a unique and personal perspective on the Indo-Caribbean culture that exists in London today.