What Is A Coolie?

Are you curious to know what is a coolie? You have come to the right place as I am going to tell you everything about a coolie in a very simple explanation. Without further discussion let’s begin to know what is a coolie?

What Is A Coolie?

The term “coolie” is a historically loaded and controversial word that has been used in various contexts to describe laborers, often of Asian descent, who performed demanding and low-wage work. Its origins are deeply rooted in colonialism, exploitation, and the mistreatment of workers. In this blog post, we’ll explore the history and meaning of the term “coolie,” its evolution, and the importance of recognizing its historical and cultural significance.

Historical Context

The term “coolie” has its roots in the Chinese word “kuli,” which means “bitter labor.” It initially referred to Chinese laborers who were contracted to work in various parts of the world during the 19th and early 20th centuries. These laborers were often subjected to harsh conditions, including long hours, low wages, and discrimination.

Key Points:

  1. Indentured Labor: “Coolies” were often indentured laborers who had signed contracts with employers or labor agents. These contracts typically bound them to work for a specified period, during which they were paid meager wages.
  2. Global Migration: The use of “coolie” labor was not limited to China but extended to other countries in Asia, such as India, and to regions like the Caribbean, South America, and the United States.
  3. Exploitative Practices: Many “coolie” laborers faced inhumane treatment, including physical abuse, poor living conditions, and substandard wages. They were often seen as expendable resources by their employers.

Evolution Of The Term

Over time, the term “coolie” evolved and took on different meanings, depending on the context and region. In some instances, it was used more broadly to describe manual laborers or porters. In others, it was used as a pejorative term, reinforcing stereotypes and perpetuating discrimination.

Modern Use And Controversy

Today, the term “coolie” is widely considered offensive and derogatory due to its historical associations with exploitation and racism. Using it to describe laborers, especially those of Asian descent, is insensitive and perpetuates harmful stereotypes.

Key Points:

  1. Reclamation Efforts: In recent years, some individuals and communities have attempted to reclaim the term “coolie” as a way to acknowledge and honor the resilience and contributions of their ancestors. This has been met with mixed reactions, as the term’s painful history remains deeply ingrained.
  2. Cultural Sensitivity: It is essential to approach discussions about the term “coolie” with cultural sensitivity and respect for the historical experiences of those who were subjected to forced labor and exploitation.


The term “coolie” carries a heavy historical burden, symbolizing the exploitation and mistreatment of laborers, particularly those of Asian descent, during a dark period of global history. It is crucial to recognize and understand the term’s history, as well as its implications in contemporary discussions, in order to promote cultural sensitivity and avoid perpetuating harmful stereotypes. As society evolves, it is important to use language that respects the dignity and experiences of all individuals, regardless of their background or labor history.

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What Is Coolie Slang For?

Coolie (also spelled koelie, kuli, khuli, khulie, cooli, cooly, or quli) is a pejorative term used for low-wage labourers, typically those of Indian or Chinese descent. Indian labourers in British Trinidad and Tobago; around 1890’s. The word coolie was first used in the 16th century by European traders across Asia.

What Is A Female Coolie?

The word coolie, which was used in the Atlantic World to refer to primarily Indian and Chinese indentured workers from Asia, is considered a pejorative. Bahadur chose the title to acknowledge the stigma but also as a metaphor for the baggage women carried as a result of colonialism.

Where Did The Term Coolie People Come From?

coolie, (from Hindi Kuli, an aboriginal tribal name, or from Tamil kuli, “wages”), in usually pejorative European usage, an unskilled labourer or porter usually in or from the Far East hired for low or subsistence wages.

What Are Indian Jamaicans Called?

Indo-Jamaicans are the descendants of people who came from the Indian subcontinent to Jamaica. Indians form the third largest ethnic group in Jamaica after Africans and Multiracials.

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