Coolies: How Britain Reinvented Slavery

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Published on 1st August 2017 by

In 1833 the Slavery Abolition Act was passed through the British parliament which formally outlawed the practice of slavery throughout the British Empire, and the British were among the first in the world to make slavery illegal, but despite the official end of slavery it could be argued that slavery continued in the United Kingdom well into the 21st century.

The ‘coolies’ were Indians who were imported into the United Kingdom, over one million of them, to carry out indentured labour which bound them to carry out work for a particular organisation or individual for a fixed number of years. The Indians were transported all over the Empire by the British with the promise of work, only to be told when they arrived that there were no provisions made for their return to their native countries.

Coolies: How Britain Reinvented Slavery is a one hour long 2002 documentary about the Coolies and their descendants, using historical evidence and accounts from the last surviving witnesses to look into this under publicised practice. The documentary first made its way online when the BBC themselves uploaded it to the now defunct Google Video service.

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