The Curious Case of Motowinie


When the second indenture ship, Berar, arrived in Fiji on 29 June 1882, the names and particulars of the Indians on board were recorded in the General Register of Indian Immigrants. The ‘Indian Indentured Labour Series List’ in the National Archives of Fiji and later historical accounts conclude the head count of immigrants on the Berar with E-Pass number 887. Curiously, these records have omitted a minute historical detail captured in the General Register – the scrawled entry relating to an Indian woman called Montowinie hastily appended at the end of the records, after the infants. Although she was not assigned an Emigration Pass at the point of departure from Garden Reach in Calcutta, Montowinie was allocated a most unusual pass number, 887½. This historical account sets out to rescue this pass-less indentured woman from the margins and reclaim her as a missing body from Fiji’s indenture history.

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Research Type(s)
Journal Article
Submitted by Margaret Mishra
March 23, 2021
Published in
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