A Time for Tea: Women, Labor, and Post/Colonial Politics on an Indian Plantation
In this creative, ethnographic, and historical critique of labor practices on an Indian plantation, Piya Chatterjee provides a sophisticated examination of the production, consumption, and circulation of tea. A Time for Tea reveals how the female tea-pluckers seen in advertisements—picturesque women in mist-shrouded fields—came to symbolize the heart of colonialism in India. Chatterjee exposes how this image has distracted from terrible working conditions, low wages, and coercive labor practices enforced by the patronage system.
Allowing personal, scholarly, and artistic voices to speak in turn and in tandem, Chatterjee discusses the fetishization of women who labor under colonial, postcolonial, and now neofeudal conditions. In telling the overarching story of commodity and empire, A Time for Tea demonstrates that at the heart of these narratives of travel, conquest, and settlement are compelling stories of women workers. While exploring the global and political dimensions of local practices of gendered labor, Chatterjee also reflects on the privileges and paradoxes of her own “decolonization” as a Third World feminist anthropologist. The book concludes with an extended reflection on the cultures of hierarchy, power, and difference in the plantation’s villages. It explores the overlapping processes by which gender, caste, and ethnicity constitute the interlocked patronage system of villages and their fields of labor. The tropes of coercion, consent, and resistance are threaded through the discussion.
A Time for Tea will appeal to anthropologists and historians, South Asianists, and those interested in colonialism, postcolonialism, labor studies, and comparative or international feminism.
Designated a John Hope Franklin Center book by the John Hope Franklin Seminar Group on Race, Religion, and Globalization.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
chapter 1 Alap1
chapter 2 Travels of Tea Travels of Empire
chapter 3 Cultivating the Garden
chapter 4 The Raj Baroque
chapter 5 Estates of a New Raj
chapter 6 Discipline and Labor
chapter 7 Village Politics
chapter 8 Protest
Other editions - View all
acts Assam assistant Association become begin Bengal body British bungalow bush Calcutta called century Chinese claim collective colonial Company connection Consider continue created cultivation cultural customary daily disciplines District Dooars drink early economy emerged English factory field forest garden gendered Government hand imperial important Indian Indian Tea involved labor land landscape leaders leaf leaves light lines living London look manager meet memsahib move Munnu narrative Narrator Nepali North noted offered organizing overseer patronage plantation planter planting plucking political possible postcolonial practice present Press production pruning remain Report ritual rule sahib says sense sexual shift social space speak staff stage status story suggests symbolic tell things tion told trade turns union University village wage walk woman women workers young