Bondsmen, freedmen, and maritime industrial transportation, c.1840-1900
This essay argues that African freedmen who laboured in ships' stokeholes played vital roles during the first decades of the development of British steam enterprise in the Indian Ocean. These freedmen represented one aspect of the simultaneous globalization and ethnic/occupational segmentation of British maritime labour as a whole. The essay opens with an analysis of the problems that faced entrepreneurs of maritime industrial transport both in general and in the Indian Ocean, leading them to seek a cheap and tractable labour force. It then shows how bondsmen became freedmen, and how freedmen became seafarers who worked on special labour contracts and almost always below deck in ocean liners. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.
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