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Forgotten FriendsMonks, Marriages, and Memories of Northeast India$
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Indrani Chatterjee

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780198089223

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198089223.001.0001

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A Fraternity of Tea and the Politics of Monastic Friendship

A Fraternity of Tea and the Politics of Monastic Friendship

(p.232) 5 A Fraternity of Tea and the Politics of Monastic Friendship
Forgotten Friends

Indrani Chatterjee

Oxford University Press

This chapter highlights the ways in which British army officers cooperated with unofficial British tea-planters to push forward an aggressive annexation of lands across the lower Brahmaputra valley (Kachar-Sylhet). This policy was aided by an official discourse that described monastic communities living on the same lands as ‘savages’. The people so described however enacted a monastic politics of compassionate friendship towards the large numbers of female and infant laborers brought to the tea-plantations from the plains. During 1868-69, a concerted effort at liberating the laborers was organised by the monastic communities in the region. The planters in turn brought the colonial armies to snatch back the laborers. This was the Lushei Expedition of 1871. The chapter explores the last expedition from the perspective of the young girls and elderly women involved in it.

Keywords:   laborers, colonial annexation, tea-plantations, friendship, militarised capitalism, slave-catching

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