“The diverse factors that shaped the emergence of the Indian diaspora in the colonial period have aroused the interest of historians and anthropologists alike. While a sizable body of literature emerged in the early 1990s on the economic aspects of migration, linking it to colonial exploitation, more recent studies have brought out its sociocultural aspects. Some recent studies have focussed on the notions of hybridity, dislocation and transnationalism to outline the complex forces that shape the lived social realities of migrant experience.
Rajesh Rai’s Indians in Singapore 1819-1945 makes a significant contribution to this aspect. The book draws on the official and unofficial records available in the state archives in Britain, Malaysia, India and Singapore; newspaper reports; and observer accounts in the 19th century. The author conjures up an encyclopaedic view of the port city’s evolution through several turbulent periods in history, including the First World War. The book successfully traces the dynamic interaction between political events and sociocultural processes that shaped the lives of the Indian diaspora in Singapore and the emergence of a multi-ethnic and multi-religious urban space through varied interactions between diverse communities. The book is divided into three parts.”