2. Discuss Both the Negative and Positive Outcomes of Introducing Indentured Labor to the Caribbean Between the Periods 1838 to 1921.

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 278
  • Published : October 22, 2012
Open Document
Text Preview
Slavery ended in 1838. One of the biggest negatives of such a system was racism which was found in every Caribbean society. British officials believed that people of Africans descent were inferior and what was worse perhaps these racist attitudes were after internalized by Black and Brown people that is some Africans themselves became convinced that they were inferior to Europeans. With Emancipation in 1838 slaves became free to choose the nature of their future existence. A fundamental development during the post- emancipation period was the exodus of ex slaves from the estates mostly to set themselves up as peasant proprietors. The movement created a labor shortage which threatened the imminent collapse of the sugar industry. To avoid ruin, planters sought to introduce immigrant labour from Europe. , Africa and Asian and to effect certain technical improvements to reduce the cost of production. There were two groups that came to the Caribbean from the 1930’s onwards who did not have much difficulty into the existing society . They were the free African immigrants and Portuguese from Madeira. By far the largest group of new arrivals , however were the Indians. Like the Portuguese they came as indentured workers to work in the sugar plantations. They soon became part of the populations of Trinidad, Guyana, Jamaica, Grenada and St. Vincent. Because of their large numbers, bringing with them religions, languages and cultural practices quite different from any found in the Caribbean , they enriched but greatly complicated the society. They were neither black or white , they were not Christians and they had their own ancient culture Two other much smaller groups of immigrants were the Chinese and the Syrian/ Lebanese. Like the Indians they brought their own language and culture. The first group of Indian immigrants arrived in Guyana in May 1838 on board the ships Whitby and Hesperus. They were distributed among six(6) sugar estates to labour under contract for five (5) years and though their treatment were satisfactory on three (3) of the estates on the others there was ill treatment , sickness and morality. The suspicions of the anti – slavery society were immediately aroused and it secured appointment of a local Commission to investigate immigrant conditions. The enquiry led to the suspension of immigration from India for an indefinite period. Regular Indian immigration was reopened in 1844 and in the following year two (2) shiploads reached Guyana , one shipload each went to Trinidad and Jamaica. The performance of these labourers exceeded expectations and in 1846 Jamaica requested an additional five thousand ( 5000), Trinidad four hundred (400) and Guyana ten thousand ( 10000). Indian immigration to the West Indies ceased in 1917 and until that time a total of 429,623 immigrant had entered . Many of the Indians who remained in the West Indies continued to reside on and to work for the estates. A much smaller number worked as peasant proprietors , some cultivated their lands in sugar cane, rice, ground provisions and fruits. These Indians were able to achieve a greater economic standing and social mobility then those who remained in the estates. By definition immigrant labor was not slavery because it was entered into voluntarily. The contract gave rights to the immigrant who was paid for his labour . There was a fixed limit to the period of indentured and when it was over the immigrant was free. However, in practice immigrant labor schemes were slavery under a different name. Although the emmigrants from India entered into the contract voluntarily, they were often deceived about the conditions they were agreeing to. In the West Indian colonies , conditions similar to those in the days of slavery still existed . They were confined to their estates. Free Indians found it advisable to carry ‘ certificates of exemption from labor’ which allowed them...
tracking img