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Between slavery and free labour: experiments with free labour and patterns of slave emancipation in Brazil and Cuba c.1830-1888

Lamounier, Lucia (1993) Between slavery and free labour: experiments with free labour and patterns of slave emancipation in Brazil and Cuba c.1830-1888. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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This thesis is divided in two main parts. The first part compares and contrasts early experiments with non-slave labour in Cuba and Sao Paulo. The second part considers projects for the gradual abolition of slavery and the transition to free labour. The objective is to examine how Cuban and Brazilian planters solved the problem of labour supply triggered by a rapid growth of plantation exports during the nineteenth century. At this time sugar and coffee plantations came to characterize economic development in the two areas. Continued expansion was threatened by international pressures to end the trans- Atlantic slave trade. Challenged by international demands to terminate the "African trade" Cuba and Brazil sought to solve the labour problem by means of immigration. From the mid-century until the end of slavery in the 1880s, planters would experiment with several labour systems, involving a variety of labour relations. Besides slaves, Europeans, Chinese, Mexican Indians, Canary Islanders, and free domestic workers (white and coloured) would be employed on the plantations. Substituting "free" labour for slave labour was not simply a matter of labour supply. For Cuba there was the question of the relationship with Spain and its consequences for the defense of slavery and the impact on immigration. For Brazil there was the question of forging a national identity. What would be the place of slaves, freedmen and immigrants in the new nation. In both regions these considerations had a racial dimension. Also planters were anxious to secure a cheap disciplined workforce. What labour system would best meet these requirements? As this thesis demonstrates this was a time of experimentation. From the first, in Brazil alternative supplies of labour were regarded as a means of transition to free labour. In Cuba new supplies of workers were viewed as complementing slavery. But the first experiments with non-slave labour affected the processes of the abolition of slavery and the transition to free labour while the meaning of "free labour” and “transition” also changed over time.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 1993 Maria Lucia Lamounier
Library of Congress subject classification: F History United States, Canada, Latin America > F1201 Latin America (General)
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Economic History
Collections > Economists Online
Collections > LSE History of Thought theses
Supervisor: Lewis, Colin M.

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