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Indian Labour Immigration and British Labour Policy in Nineteenth-Century Ceylon

Wenzlhuemer, Roland

In: Modern Asian Studies, 41 (2007), Nr. 3. pp. 575-602

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During most of the nineteenth century, the economy of the British crown colony Ceylon depended almost exclusively on the export of plantation products. After modest beginnings in the 1820s and 1830s, coffee cultivation spread on the island in the 1840s. During the 1880s, the coffee plantations were superseded by plantations of a new crop—tea. Both cultivation systems were almost pure export monocultures, and both relied almost exclusively on imported wage labour from South India. Thus, it is surprising that labour immigration—a process vital to the efficient functioning of the plantation economy—received practically no government attention for the better part of the nineteenth century. Migration between South India and Ceylon was free of government control, support or regulation. Instead, certain functional equivalents—such as the kangany system—organised immigration and coordinated supply and demand. Only very late in the century, when the kangany system had revealed a number of dramatic organisational weaknesses, the Ceylon Government started to get directly involved in labour and immigration policy.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Modern Asian Studies
Volume: 41
Number: 3
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2015 13:54
Date: 2007
Page Range: pp. 575-602
Faculties / Institutes: Philosophische Fakultät > Historisches Seminar
Subjects: 950 General history of Asia Far East
Controlled Keywords: Ceylon, Arbeitsmigration, Immigration, Labour Party, Geschichte
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