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Colour assignment and servile labour. The phenomenon of blackbirding in the Australian context
Author/s: Gaia Giuliani 
Year:  2011 Issue: 41 Language: Italian 
Pages:  17 FullText PDF:  782 KB
DOI:  10.3280/LAS2011-041003
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My article investigates the connections between that particular system of production (sugar and cotton plantations in Queensland), its correspondent model of exploitation (indentured labour), the colour assignment in the Pacific, and the particular characteristics of Australia as a white settler colony. Its focus is on blackbirding, that particular system of labour recruitment and exploitation that involved Pacific islanders as indentured labourers between 1863 and 1904. Pacific islanders were from Melanesia, Micronesia, and a few islands from Polynesia. The recruitment process almost always incorporated an element of coercive recruitment and indentured servitude, but blackbirding also included voluntary selfrecruitment. In the plantations, Pacific Islanders’ indentured labour, notwithstanding it was legally assumed as waged and not enslaved, reproduced a regime of high exploitation, coercion, discipline, control and duration that resonated slavery. This solution seemed to be the best solution to guarantee two important effects: the availability of an (almost) unwaged, racialised and segregated labourforce; and the eventual return home of this labour, so its presence would not threaten Australia's whiteness.

Gaia Giuliani, Colour assignment and servile labour. The phenomenon of blackbirding in the Australian context in "SOCIETÀ DEGLI INDIVIDUI (LA)" 41/2011, pp. , DOI:10.3280/LAS2011-041003


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