This article supplements current dialogue on the archaeology of slavery, offering an Indian Ocean counterpoint to a topic that has largely focused on the Atlantic world. It also delves into the essentially uncharted domain of the archaeology of indentured labour. New plural societies, characterized by cultural hybridity, were created around the world as a consequence of labour diasporas in the late historic period. What do these societies look like during the process of nation building and after independence? Can we study this development through archaeology? Focusing on Mauritius, this paper discusses the complexities of the island, and how it can be representative of similar newly formed plural societies in the Indian Ocean. During French and British imperial rule, the island served as an important trading post for a range of European imperial powers. These varied groups initiated the movement and settlement of African, Indian and Chinese transplanted communities. By exploring the dynamic nature of inter-group interaction on Mauritius, this paper emphasizes the nuanced nature of how different peoples arrived and made the island their home. Mauritius played a vital role in the transportation of forced and free labour, both within and beyond this oceanic world, and offers an important viewpoint from which to survey the ways in which historical archaeology can improve our understanding of the broader archaeo-historical processes of which these diasporas were an integral feature. The paper focuses on the outcomes of settlement, as viewed through the complex practices that underpin local food culture, the use and development of language and the way materials are employed for the expression of identity. The article also traces the roots of contemporary cultural retention for indentured labourers to administrative decisions made by the British, and ultimately explores how heritage and language can provide a powerful lens on mechanisms of cultural expression. In addition to illustrating the nuanced and multifaceted nature of group interaction on Mauritius itself, this article raises an issue of broader relevance—the need for historical archaeologists to give greater consideration to the Indian Ocean, rather than focusing on the Atlantic world. This would allow us to achieve a more informed understanding of European slave trading and associated systems of labour migration within a more global framework.