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South Asia, migration 1850–1970s

Migration A–Z


  1. Amarjit Kaur

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm501

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Kaur, A. 2013. South Asia, migration 1850–1970s. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


Indian migration to British territories in Southeast Asia and elsewhere in the late 19th century corresponded with the expanding Atlantic economy and with world processes relating to the region's past and present narratives. Initial labor migration flows to Malaya and Sumatra (Benkulen) were linked to earlier British trading networks in the Indian Ocean and the transportation of convict labor to the English East India Company factories there. Following South Asia's incorporation into the British empire, there was increasing integration of global Indian migration flows associated with the engagement of distinct labor groups for Britain's far-flung colonies across the Indian Ocean, westward toward Africa and eastward toward East and Southeast Asia. India essentially provided laborers for plantation capitalism and the production of commodities of empire (foodstuffs, stimulants, and industrial crops); for industrial, port, and shipping systems; and for public sector projects. Workers in the third group constructed railways and roads to connect townships with production areas which led to the transformation of economies.


  • immigration;
  • poverty;
  • imperialism;
  • labor supply;
  • capitalism