UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Exclusion at the heart of empire : Punjabi migrants in Buenos Aires and London before the First World War Bryce, Benjamin


This article charts the history of hundreds of Punjabi labourers who migrated to Argentina in 1912 and then onward to the United Kingdom. It argues that both worker agency and imperial concerns about mobility shaped this episode of migration and exclusion. Drawing from sources produced in Britain and Argentina in English and Spanish, it shows how both workers and bureaucrats pursued competing goals and how the ideas and activities of both groups mattered. On the one hand, it examines these migrant labourers’ voices and goals in Argentina and the United Kingdom. These Punjabi men repeatedly weighed their options and pursued opportunities for advancement, often taking advantage of their imperial subjecthood to do so. On the other hand, this research also shows how those strategies coexisted with efforts of bureaucrats in Buenos Aires and London who sought to repatriate these migrants.

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