In Place of Slavery: A Social History of British Indian and Javanese Laborers in Suriname

By Rosemarijn Hoefte | Go to book overview

3
The Immigration of British Indians and Javanese

The West Indies were the Cinderella of the Dutch government in the nineteenth century. The budget for Suriname was one of the last items discussed before the Christmas recess, and important issues were "automatically" passed since the problems of this colony were not pressing enough to cause the members of parliament to incur sleepless nights. Most could not have discussed matters intelligently even had they wanted to because the reports about the colony (Koloniale Verslagen) were often received after the budget had already been passed. Most ministers of the colonies were not familiar with the local situation in Suriname; the true requisite for the job was expertise in the affairs of the Netherlands East Indies. On the other hand, however, following the long debate on the abolition of slavery, the problem "Whither Suriname?" after emancipation still sparked some interest among administration officials and members of parliament. The outcome of the debate was that the Dutch government concluded a treaty with its British counterpart on the importation of indentured laborers from India. Following some early problems, which even prompted the British government to halt emigration to Suriname, this emigration continued until India prohibited indentured emigration in 1917. By that time, the Netherlands had already secured a new immigrant supply from its own Asian colony, Java. In both cases, the recruitment and quality of the workers were subject to debate throughout the period of indentured immigration.


The Political Debate on Indentured Immigration

In February 1868, the Koloniale Staten in Suriname in an address to King Willem III requested that the government interest itself in immigration. The subsequent bill "to promote the importation of free laborers to the colony

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In Place of Slavery: A Social History of British Indian and Javanese Laborers in Suriname
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • I - Introduction 1
  • 2 - A Concise History of Suriname and Mariënburg 8
  • Epilogue: Mariënburg Since the Second World War 23
  • 3 - The Immigration of British Indians and Javanese 25
  • 4 - Demographic Impact of British Indian and Javanese Indentured Immigrants 61
  • 5 - Protection, Power, and Control 80
  • 6 - The Plantation Hierarchy 94
  • 7 - Tasks, Hours, and Wages 114
  • 8 - Social Provisions: Free Housing and Medical Care, and the Plantation Shop 137
  • 9 - Social, Religious, and Cultural Life of the Asian Immigrants 158
  • 10 - Resistance 186
  • Conclusion 203
  • Appendix I 207
  • Appendix 2 209
  • Notes 213
  • Bibliography 250
  • Index 265
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