Webinar: The Coolie's Great War with author Radhika Singha

The final fall New Books in Asian Studies edition is the US book launch for Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)'s Radhika Singha!

Book cover of "The Coolie's Great War"
Book cover for "The Coolies' Great War"

In The Coolie’s Great War: Indian Labour in a Global Conflict, 1914–1921, Radhika Singha, Professor of Modern Indian History at JNU, pens a spectacular history of the 550,000+ unacknowledged Indian laborers who kept the Allied supply lines flowing in World War I. The labor regimes built on the backs of these non-combatant ‘coolies’ sustained the military infrastructure of empire; their deployment in inter-regional arenas bent to the demands of global war in various capacities from the porters, stevedores, and construction workers in the Coolie Corps to those who maintained supply lines and removed the wounded from the battlefield. Viewed as racially subordinate and subject to ‘non-martial’ caste designations, they fought back against their status, using the warring powers’ need for manpower as leverage to challenge traditional service hierarchies and wage differentials.

Singha will share a general outline of the book and then focus on the last chapter, which deals with homecoming. Benjamin D. Hopkins, Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, will bring his expertise on British imperialism and serve as moderator for this lively discussion. The Coolie’s Great War views that global conflict through the lens of Indian labor, constructing a distinct geography of the war—from tribal settlements and colonial jails, beyond India’s frontiers, to the battlefronts of France and Mesopotamia.

For this month's book giveaway: Attend with the name you registered as and submit a question to be entered to win. Advance questions can be sent to [email protected] with subject "NBAS: Radhika Singha" or directly posted in the live Q&A. The Sigur Center will purchase the book from a local DC bookstore and pay for shipping. The contest is open to U.S. addresses only. 1 entry per person regardless of the number of questions submitted.

Registered guests will receive an email with instructions for joining Webex 24 hours prior to the event. Registration closes at 2:00pm EDT on December 9. This event is on the record, open to the public, and will be recorded.

Media inquiries must be sent to [email protected]. Accessibility requests must be sent to [email protected] at least 3 business days in advance.