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After emancipation : empires and imperial formations
chapterposted on 20.10.2014, 10:21 by Clare Anderson
This essay will explore the relationship between enslavement, emancipation and the larger labour history of the British imperial world. Drawing on my area of specialism – convict transportation in the Indian Ocean world - I will suggest that slavery was part of a continuum of unfree work practices that spanned Empire, and that Empire’s variously staggered emancipations were moments that laid the ground for the production of new coerced labour forms. Enslavement, emancipation, coercion and work: each was connected to the other, and together they underpinned the making and remaking of the British Empire and its associated imperial formations. Slavery and other forms of colonial labour came together through practices and understandings that connected work with the search for imperial dominance and profit, as well as understandings about the relationship between race, ethnicity, class and labour. Over time, as I will show, the articulations and and re-articulations of colonial ideas about difference and distinction produced new forms of geographic and social dislocation and exploitation, as well as a host of imaginative connections between people, work and political economy.