Brewing Resistance: Indian Coffee House and the Emergency in Postcolonial India

Conference Highlights, Keynote Speakers, Panels and Plenary

In the 1970s Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi suspended the constitution, and with it, civil liberties. The hope of decolonization that had turned to disillusion in the postcolonial period quickly descended into a nightmare. In this book, Kristin Plys recounts the little known story of the movement against the Emergency as seen through New Delhi’s Indian Coffee House based on newly uncovered evidence and oral histories with the men who led the movement against the Emergency. Created by British plantation owners to weather the Empire-wide export commodity surplus crisis of the 1930s, Indian Coffee House was occupied by its workers in 1946 and eventually transformed into a cooperative as part of an anti-colonial and anti-capitalist workers movement. By the 1970s, Indian Coffee House became more than an economic intervention into the processes of capitalism and empire— it was transformed into a radical space where intellectuals of various persuasions and viewpoints gathered to resist the Emergency.

Dr. Kristin Victoria Magistrelli Plys received the 2022 Global Sociology Book Award for Brewing Resistance: Indian Coffee House and the Emergency in Postcolonial India. Cambridge University Press, 2020

The adjudication committee recognized the merit of this book that links the scholarship on social and labour movements with that of economic development, colonial policies, democratic politics, and post-colonial states. They further noted that the book provides an exemplary model of research to the students of historical sociology.

Organizer: Sherry Fox, Canadian Sociological Association