the contemporary pacific · spring 2003 urgent. For this reason, instead of Doug Monroe's rather pointless eulogy of Lal's oeuvre, an extended meditation on the act of historical mediation would have been, I think, a better way to start the book. Lal is an important historian and sooner rather than later he will need to grapple with this aspect of his work. For those familiar with Kenneth Gillion's Fiji's Indian Migrants (1962) and Hugh Tinker's magisterial study, A New System of Slavery (1974), the first seven chapters provide little that is honestly new. With the exception of the second chapter, which narrates Lal's journey to his ancestral village of Bahraich, the remaining chapters furnish a broad-brush account of migration trends according to districts and provinces; the "push" and "pull" factors determining population movements; caste, gender, and age composition of the migrants; the part played by recruiters as well as their agents; life in the depots prior to emigration; conditions aboard sailing (and later steam) ships during the passage; statistics on suicide in the plantations; and so on. Much of this information can be gleaned from earlier studies, including Lal's own Girmitiyas: The Origins of the Fiji Indians (1983).
The Contemporary Pacific – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Feb 10, 2003