The Imperial Politics of Slavery in the Naga Hills

26.03.2021 14:00 - 16:00

Roderick Wijunamai | Royal Thimphu College, Bhutan

The relationship between imperialism and slavery has been variously told. The usual narrative tells of the de-humanizing of conquered populations, especially in Africa, into commodities that could be bought and sold, and from whose trade colonizing powers benefitted greatly. In this presentation, I tell a different story of the relationship between imperialism and slavery. Inviting my listeners to the Naga hills in what is today Northeast India I shall show how it was not the perpetuation of slavery that, in a way, sustained imperial rule but that imperial rule sought to sustain itself through abolishing forms of slavery that existed among the communities the British Raj sought to conquer and subdue. I trace, with the help of historical accounts and archives, how the imperial government dealt with the Naga hills during the nineteenth century.