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Synopsis

Based on thorough documentary research in archives and newspapers, Workers in Bondage begins with the origins of servitude during the convict era in Queensland before its separation from New South Wales in 1859. The study then focuses in on Queensland’s Pacific Islander labor force, examining the reconstruction of the Queensland sugar industry after the withdrawal of Islander labor and describing the realities of white labor and the early trade union struggles in the sugar industry. Underlying the text is an analysis of labor manipulation by capitalism in a new colony during a time of transition from slavery to indenture in the British Empire. This is a comprehensive and insightful academic examination of the little known history of the enslavement of Pacific Island workers in Australian convict-era industries, as well as a wider study of race relations in a frontier society.

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