Histories of indenture feature largely in the collection, including travel accounts from South Asia as well as studies of the subsequent development of distinct cultural forms in new Caribbean homelands. Details about the journey are offered in a number of colonialist journals, diaries, and ship logs, such as Captain Swinton’s Journal of a Voyage with Coolie Emigrants, from Calcutta to Trinidad, The First Crossing: Being the Diary of Theophilus Richmond, Ship’s Surgeon Aboard the Hesperus, 1837-8, and Captain Angel’s log in A Return to the Middle Passage: The Clipper Ship “Sheila”. Accounts of the indentured are also retold in works such as Immigrant #99840 and Canecutter #7074, which provides a 100-year family history that stretches from India to Guyana and subsequently to Canada, or The Still Cry, which recounts oral narratives of five surviving laborers in Trinidad & Tobago. Contemporary scholarly analysis considers the unique developments of Indo-Caribbean histories in a variety of locales: Transients to Settlers: The Experience of Indians in Jamaica, 1845-1950 highlights the distinct cultural identity of East Indians in Jamaica; Survivors of Another Crossing: A History of East Indians in Trinidad, 1880-1946 considers the impact of South Asian immigrants throughout Trinidadian society; and Bengal to Barbados outlines contributions of Indians to Bajan society as viewed through family history. Together, these histories provide a range of perspectives in a variety of Caribbean contexts.
Studies of political matters and writings of national leaders also form a notable portion of the collection. Works focused on Trinidad & Tobago tend towards considerations of ethnicity and the electorate, highlighting divisions between East Indian and Afro-Caribbean groups. For example, Deadlock! explores the intersection of ethnicity and electoral competition in the late 1990s; East Indians and Black Power in the Caribbean examines how ethnic divisions impact the political and economic landscapes; and Pathways to Power advocates for East Indians working towards greater national unity. The influence of Hindu nationalism in Trinidadian politics is also considered in biographies such as Simbhoonath Capildeo: Lion of the Legislative Council and Sat Maharaj: Hindu Civil Rights Leader. Policies of resistance and critique characterize much of the Guyanese discourse, as evident in Cheddi Jagan’s various works and speeches and in Guyana, Political and Social Satire, a collection of political cartoons.
Cultural studies in the collection focus on matters of arts, religion, and gender. Scholarly analyses such as Music of the Indian Diaspora in Trinidad and The Impact of Indian Movies on East Indian Identity in Trinidad examine the influence of artforms on Indo-Caribbean identity, while works like Golden Heritage: The Dance in Trinidad and Tobago and Inward Journey document unique cultural expressions. The syncretic nature of the Indo-Caribbean religious realm is revealed in a number of studies: The Ramleela of Sangre Grande documents an Indo-Caribbean iteration of a North Indian Hindu festival; Temples and Mosques: An Illustrated Study of East Indian Places of Worship in Guyana explores the development of distinct Guyanese religious spaces; and Indian Caribbean Folklore Spirits details the paranormal beings said to roam the region. The influence of women on Indo-Caribbean culture is documented in works like I Rather Dead, which provides a Spivakian analysis of Indo-Caribbean women’s narratives, as well as East Indian Women of Trinidad and Tobago and Why Not a Woman?, both of which feature influential women and their contributions to Trinidadian society.