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The Swan River Experiment: Coerced Labour in Western Australia 1829-1868

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posted on 2018-08-28, 11:55 authored by Kellie Moss
This thesis situates the transportation of convicts to Western Australia within the context of global flows of coerced labour migration in the period 1829-1868. It examines the role of European, Chinese and Indian indentured servants; Aboriginal Australian people; juvenile emigrants from Britain; and child and adult convicts who were amongst the extraordinary range of labourers who travelled to, and helped build, the Swan River Colony. Previous research has examined these forms of labour separately and within their local context. Instead, this thesis analyses the connections and entanglements between these different experiments in labour importation and extraction. It also shows how social categories – including age, gender, ethnicity, and ‘criminal status’ – affected the development of labour systems and the experiences of various kinds of labourers. By examining the relationships between these differing practices this thesis overturns presumptions about a clear shift from free to unfree labour in Western Australia in 1850, when convicts were first transported. Instead it reveals a much longer process of the introduction of new and increasingly controversial forms of unfree labour from 1829 until Swan River became a penal colony. In so doing it renders visible the work of those hidden from histories of Western Australia’s foundation.



Anderson, Clare; Foxhall, Katherine

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School of Historical Studies

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University of Leicester

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