Lascars and Indian Ocean Seafaring, 1780-1860

November 2015
13 black and white illustrations
254 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
The Worlds of the East India Company
ISBN: 9781783270385
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS015000, HIS017000, HIS037060

Lascars and Indian Ocean Seafaring, 1780-1860

Shipboard Life, Unrest and Mutiny

Aaron Jaffer

Cases of mutiny and other forms of protest are used to reveal full and interesting details of lascar shipboard life.
Shortlisted for the Royal Historical Society's 2016 Gladstone Prize.

Lascars were seamen from the Indian subcontinent and other areas of the Indian Ocean region who were employed aboard European ships from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. They experienced difficult working conditions and came from a wide variety of ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds, which created considerable scope for friction between them and their European officers. This book, based on extensive original research, examines the role of lascars employed aboard country ships, East Indiamen and other British sailing vessels. The focus is on protest in its various forms, from mild unrest to violent acts of mutiny in which lascar crews murdered officers, seized ships and then sought refuge with local rulers. It is only through descriptions of such events - found in logbooks, seafaring diaries and the East India Company's judicial records - that many aspects of lascar life at sea become visible and lascar voices can be heard. Through the study of mutiny and other forms of protest, the book provides a detailed insight into shipboard conditions amongst lascars employed during this period.

Aaron Jaffer completed his doctorate in history at the University of Warwick.

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Table of Contents

Causes of Mutiny
Mutiny and Protest
The Role of Intermediaries
Seizing the Ship
Mutiny, Politics and Diplomacy


Fascinating... Jaffer writes very well indeed, and this book is in many ways an exemplary social history.... Well written, historiographically astute, empirically thorough and showing a real eye for detail, this study should remain a leading work on lascar life and mutiny for a long time. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

[S]crupulously documented . Jaffer is careful in his judgments and trustworthy in the use of his sources, and he has been industrious in seeking out widely dispersed primary materials. JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY HISTORY

A very valuable contribution to a very important subject. AUSMARINE

Will be of interest to a range of scholars not limited to labour and maritime historians. Eminently readable, accessible, and thoroughly edited, Jaffer's study is also recommended for a wider reading public interested in labour history and life at sea. TIJDSCHRIFT VOOR ZEEGESCHIEDENIS

[A] valuable addition . . . for it engages with the challenges of recuperating the world of rebellious lascars in the closing years of the eighteenth and the first half of the nineteenth century. It right questions the silence of existing work on the lascars before industrialization and capitalist regulation. H-NET Reviews

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