Transactions of the Royal Historical Society (Sixth Series)

Research Article

SLAVES OUT OF CONTEXT: DOMESTIC SLAVERY AND THE ANGLO-INDIAN FAMILY, c. 1780–1830*

Margot Finna1

a1 THE UNIVERSITY OF DUNDEE

ABSTRACT

This paper explores the place of domestic slaves in British families resident in India, c. 1780–1830, and the ways in which the presence of slaves within these Anglo-Indian households challenged British understandings of slavery as a practice. Drawing upon probate data, private correspondence and the Parliamentary Papers, it suggests that the history of slavery in the British empire must be situated within wider histories of family, household and kin. Located within the family and often conflated with servants, domestic slaves in Anglo-India came to be seen as dependent female subordinates whose gender and status placed them outside the emerging politics of emancipation.

(Online publication October 17 2008)

Footnotes

* Research for this paper was funded by an Economic and Social Research Council award for ‘Colonial Possessions: Personal Property and Social Identity in British India’. The author thanks Dr Matt Adams for research conducted on this project and Professors Trevor Burnard, Gad Heuman and Carolyn Steedman for their helpful comments on the paper itself.