Cane and Labour

Cane and Labour : Political Economy of the Queensland Sugar Industry, 1862-1906

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An analysis of the economic and social history of indentured Pacific Island labour migrants in the Queensland sugar industry, and of the rise and fall of the extensive system of plantations upon which the workers laboured. The period covered is 1862-1906. The book employs the method of historical materialism and the analytical approach of political economy. The analysis begins with a detailed economic history of the industry in which the primary focus is the explanation of the emergence and then the decline of plantation production. Attention then moves to the social history of immigrants in Queensland; their living and working conditions, health and mortality, the sociology of the plantation, the legislative and administrative instruments of the state, a detailed study of the extensive forms of social control to which the immigrants were subject, including the practices of deferred pay and the trade box system, and how the islanders invoked a wide range of strategies to resist the employers and the state.
The concluding chapter attempts to set the historical experience of Pacific Islanders in Queensland into an international context, and in particular to contrast it with orthodox assumptions about the "primitive or static" nature of plantation production and the fashionable portrayal of systems of post-slavery systems of indentured labour as a "new system of slavery".
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 139.7 x 218.44 x 25.4mm | 498.95g
  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0748601171
  • 9780748601172

Table of contents

The rise of plantation production, 1862-1889; the economic and political foundations of the central milling system; reconstruction and the abolition of the labour trade; the material life of Pacific Island labour in the Queensland sugar industry; the plantation; the state and the control of Pacific Islanders in Queensland; social control; worker resistance.
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