This event has now finished.
  • Date and time: Saturday 8 June 2024, 4.30pm to 6pm
  • Location: In-person only
    St Saviourgate York (Map)
  • Admission: Free admission, booking required

Event details

After the abolition of slavery, Britain implemented a new system of unfree labour to maintain its power and profit. Hear the stories of the Indian men and women who were brought to the Caribbean to work on sugar and cocoa plantations during the period of Indian Indentureship, many settling there permanently. Their exploitation – and entrepreneurship – enabled the growth of familiar global confectionary companies such as Rowntree’s.

Join us for a journey through archival photographs, family histories and documentary film, and learn more about the contemporary forms of unfree labour which endure in supply chains across the world.

In-person and online tickets are available for this event.

Find out more about the Rowntree Society.

Image credit: Arlen Harris and Daniyal Harris-Vajda

About the speakers

Diamond Ashiagbor is Professor of Law at the University of Kent. She has held a number of prestigious research and teaching posts at universities in the UK and abroad and was the recipient of the Society of Legal Scholars Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship. A specialist on the subject of labour law, Diamond is currently undertaking research around continuities in legal forms governing slavery, indenture, and modern ‘free’ waged work. She is a Trustee of Black Cultural Archives.

David Dabydeen is a Guyanese novelist, poet and academic. He was Guyana's Ambassador to UNESCO from 1997 to 2010 and Guyana's Ambassador to China from 2010 to 2015. David also served at the University of Warwick from 1984 to 2017 as Director of the Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies and Professor of Postcolonial Literature. David is currently the Director of the Ameena Gafoor Institute for the study of indenture and its legacies.

Maureen Grant is a Trustee at The Rowntree Society. She retired after a long career in local government and at the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT). Maureen has a background in community activism, and is a passionate advocate for racial justice, community empowerment and environmental sustainability. She sits on a number of boards and volunteers as a radio presenter for a community radio station, giving voice to underrepresented sections of the community.

Arlen Harris is an award-winning programme maker with over 30 years’ experience in print, TV and radio, working mainly for British television for the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV on World in Action, Panorama and Dispatches. His reporting on racial segregation in the army for The Observer helped end the colour bar in the elite regiments guarding the Queen. He has filmed with pirates in the South China seas, in Beirut and in Sri Lanka during the civil war and made films about the Iraq War. 

Maria del Pilar Kaladeen is an Associate Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.  She specialises in the study of the history of the system of Indian indenture in the Caribbean and has edited two anthologies of writing on this subject. Maria has spoken about the history of indenture in the Caribbean on the BBC World Service and BBC Asian Network. Her family story and academic research were the focus of a short film on indenture, made by AJ Plus in 2023. 

Stephen Pittam retired from the position of Trust Secretary of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT) in 2012, during which time he had responsibility for the foundation’s programmes on racial justice, democracy, human rights and corporate accountability in the UK, and on peacebuilding in Ireland. He is currently a Trustee of the British Institute of Human Rights and the Polden Puckham Charitable Foundation and a member of the Advisory Board for the Centre for Applied Human Rights at the University of York.


The Rowntree Society Ameena Gafoor Institute

Venue details

  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Hearing loop