From the 1870s a growing number of Indian seafarers went to work on foreign vessels, the large majority (over two thirds) on British ships. These sailors inhabited a world deeply marked by race which deter­mined what they would do, how much they would be paid, and how they could be trea­ted. Yet until recently Indian seafarers have languished as a historically invisible under­class. This paper contextualizes the develop­ment of the Indian sailors' recruitment and working conditions, and describes the cam­paigns organized by British trade unions against Asian crews.


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