reforming_everywhere_and_all_at_once_transitioning_to_free_labor_across_the_british_empire_18371838.pdf (280.72 kB)
Download file

Reforming Everywhere and All at Once: Transitioning to Free Labor Across the British Empire, 1837-1838

Download (280.72 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 18.04.2018, 11:57 by Kate Boehme, Peter Mitchell, Alan Lester
In late 1837 and early 1838 the British imperial government was preparing for an empire-wide transition from bonded to nominally free labour. This article builds upon recent scholarship that promotes a holistic, global approach to this transition, by narrowing the temporal frame and expanding the spatial. We emphasise interconnectivity and simultaneity rather than chronological succession, and we analyse the governance, rather than the experience, of this transition. Our approach is founded upon analysis of correspondence passing from every British colonial site through the Colonial Office in 1837-8. We suggest that this hub of imperial government sought to reconcile the persistence of different conditions in each colony with the pursuit of three overarching policy objectives: redistributing labour globally; distinguishing between the moral debts owed to different kinds of bonded labour, and managing trade-offs between security, economy and morality. We conclude that the governance of the transition to free labour is best conceived as an assemblage of material and expressive elements of different spatial scales, whose interactions were complex and indeterminate. Through these specific governmental priorities and a particular communications infrastructure, these elements were brought into critical alignment at this moment to shape a significant transition in relations between people across the world.

History

Citation

Comparative Studies in Society and History, 2018, 60(3), pp. 688-718

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, ARTS AND HUMANITIES/School of History, Politics and International Relations

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

Comparative Studies in Society and History

Publisher

Cambridge University Press

issn

0010-4175

eissn

1475-2999

Copyright date

2018

Available date

18/04/2018

Publisher version

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history/article/reforming-everywhere-and-all-at-once-transitioning-to-free-labor-across-the-british-empire-18371838/E2BBDC44298E2C11B71A1737DB36B4A6

Language

en

Usage metrics

Categories

Keywords

Exports