Edges of Empire

KNW 2399: Edges of Empire

British Indian Slaves


Photo: Golas or Hereditary Slaves of Kattiwar

Photographer: William Johnson


In this particular image, a group of slaves are posing in what appears to be a rather desolate and almost war-torn backdrop.  The title of the photo is intriguing because these men appear to be fairly well dressed and groomed.  The appearance of these men stands in stark contrast to how many would view slaves in other parts of the world who would appear much more ragged and in worse shape.  This possibly suggests that the fact that they are hereditary slaves allows them to be treated quite differently than slaves in other parts of the world where there could be a racial component.  All of the men in the photo are all looking in different directions with different facial expressions, possibly suggesting a different status or standing among the different men.  Some look surprised while others appear to be happy and aloof.  This photo raises many questions about the use of slaves prior to the European involvement in India as well as the standing that these hereditary slaves had in India.  This shows a connection between the cultures of Europe and India long before the two cultures were mixed and how they are different as well.



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