The history of slavery in Sri Lanka has been shunted to one side in both academic writing and popular memory. This ambitious book seeks to tell its history through a detailed examination of the period from 1799, when the British made their first move to dismantle slavery, to 1844, when the institution was finally abolished. Nira Wickramasinghe has two main goals in Slave in a Palanquin. First, she seeks to use fragments from the archives to recover details of slave and underclass life, particularly acts of resistance and underlying notions of justice and freedom. Second, she outlines the relationship between slavery and colonialism. Slavery at the onset of British rule in 1796 was a product of the 150 years of Dutch East India Company (VOC) control of the maritime areas of Sri Lanka. It had two distinct forms: a mostly urban domestic servitude, imposed on people who had originally...

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