|About the Book|
The Coolie Trade is an in-depth study of the traffic in Chinese indentured laborers to Latin America. The phenomenon of indentured labor spread throughout the western world in the latter two-thirds of the nineteenth century appearing in suchMoreThe Coolie Trade is an in-depth study of the traffic in Chinese indentured laborers to Latin America. The phenomenon of indentured labor spread throughout the western world in the latter two-thirds of the nineteenth century appearing in such far-flung places as Mauritius, South Africa, Australia, Malaya, the Fiji Islands, and Latin America. With the abolition of the African slave trade, the demands of Europe s expanding industrialism activated an intercontinental search for laborers. Natives of the subcontinent of India, Pacific Islanders, and Chinese were the principal victims of a system of indentured labor, i.e. contract labor under penal sanction, which in practice differed little from the system of slavery it replaced. Latin American plantation owners and exploiters of guano and nitrate fields, unsuccessful elsewhere, turned toward the teeming population of China for their manpower needs. Between 1847 and 1874, vessels of 20 western nations transported over a quarter of a million involuntary male Chinese to the Caribbean and tropical South America. This book presents a comprehensive study of this migration, which was larger in scope and much more documented than the contemporary migration of Chinese to California. Chinese migration to Latin America was initiated and sustained not by the spontaneous action of free agents, but rather by the persuasion, deceit, and coercion of emigration recruiters in the employ of western entrepreneurs. The voyage to the Americas in former slave ships was a prolonged battle for survival with the elements, disease, ruthless crews, and scheming fellow passengers that took the lives of approximately one emigrant in every eight. In Latin America, Chinese laborers, like the Negro slaves they replaced, were sold to the highest bidder, exploited, oppressed, and kept in varying degrees of dehumanizing bondage. The impact of this new slave trade on China overshadowed whatever significance the migration had in the New World. Problems arising from the illegal recruitment of laborers on China s southern coast not only forced the Chinese Government to break with centuries of tradition and officially sanction emigration, but aroused China to take an active interest in her subjects abroad, which helped to draw China out of isolationism, and promoted diplomatic contact with a new area of the globe-the South American continent. This work relies heavily upon the correspondence of consuls and diplomats on the China coast and in Latin America contained in the archives of the British Public Record Office and in the British Parliamentary Papers- the China coast newspapers of the nineteenth century, both English and Portuguese, including the official weekly publications of the Hong Kong and Macau governments- and the official correspondence between Macau and Lisbon contained in Lisbons Arquivo Historico Ultramarino. Highly-recommended to the researcher and student of history as well as to Chinese entrepreneurs and diplomats seeking economic opportunities and raw materials throughout Latin America. The Coolie Trade may be a very useful resource in understanding the economic, cultural, and political impact of Chinese indentured labor on both China and Latin America.