Illegible Will: Coercive Spectacles of Labor in South Africa and the Diaspora
Slow Death: “Indian” Performances of Indenture and Slavery
This chapter adds the Indian Ocean to studies of the slavery. It complicates postapartheid portrayals of the origins of South African Indians by comparing indenture with the enslavement of Indians in the Cape and the indenture of the indigenous Khoikhoi some one hundred years earlier. I then discuss suicide as an example of how indentured servants’ will was read in the archive in ways that routinized violence and overestimated the difference between enslaved and contractual labor. I critically imagine the will of these indentured servants through a close reading of Agnes Sam’s short story High Heels in ways that highlight notions of religious conversion and desire. I introduce the concept of Gloria Wekker’s mati work that is pivotal to next chapter.