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Many Middle Passages

Many Middle Passages: Forced Migration and the Making of the Modern World

Emma Christopher
Cassandra Pybus
Marcus Rediker
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Pages: 274
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  • Book Info
    Many Middle Passages
    Book Description:

    This groundbreaking book presents a global perspective on the history of forced migration over three centuries and illuminates the centrality of these vast movements of people in the making of the modern world. Highly original essays from renowned international scholars trace the history of slaves, indentured servants, transported convicts, bonded soldiers, trafficked women, and coolie and Kanaka labor across the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans. They depict the cruelty of the captivity, torture, terror, and death involved in the shipping of human cargo over the waterways of the world, which continues unabated to this day. At the same time, these essays highlight the forms of resistance and cultural creativity that have emerged from this violent history. Together, the essays accomplish what no single author could provide: a truly global context for understanding the experience of men, women, and children forced into the violent and alienating experience of bonded labor in a strange new world. This pioneering volume also begins to chart a new role of the sea as a key site where history is made.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94098-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-19)

    THE “MIDDLE PASSAGE” IS AN old maritime phrase, dating to the heyday of the Atlantic slave trade. It designated the bottom line of a trading triangle, between the “outward passage” from Europe to Africa and the “homeward passage” from the Americas back to Europe. TheOxford English Dictionarynotes the first maritime usage as 1788, by the abolitionist Thomas Clarkson. The phrase is older than that, but by crediting Clarkson another truth is revealed: through a broad-based social movement, those who campaigned to abolish the slave trade made the middle passage notorious and a part of popular vocabulary in their...

  5. ONE The Other Middle Passage: The African Slave Trade in the Indian Ocean
    (pp. 20-38)

    THE MIDDLE PASSAGE, traditionally presented as the most traumatic moment in the entire slave trade, has assumed iconographic significance for many diasporic Africans in the Black Atlantic.¹ As Colin Palmer concludes:

    The Middle Passage was more than just a shared physical experience for those who survived it. It was and is a metaphor for the suffering of African peoples born of their enslavement, of severed ties, of longing for a lost homeland, of a forced exile. . . . It is a living and wrenching aspect of the history of the peoples of the African diaspora, an inescapable part of...

  6. TWO The East African Middle Passage: David Livingstone, the Zambesi Expedition, and Lake Nyassa, 1858–1866
    (pp. 39-51)

    IN JANUARY 1859 THE DOUR Scottish explorer David Livingstone was in a buoyant mood, a rare occurrence in a man who habitually scared his European companions with long bouts of silence, explosions of paranoid sarcasm, and an inflexible intolerance of people with constitutions weaker than his. As his six European companions and handful of Makololo bearers chugged up the Shire River in a small steel-plated steamboat, Livingstone allowed himself a moment of self-congratulation for having snatched his Zambesi expedition from the ashes of failure.

    A year earlier, on the crest of his British celebrity as a missionary hero and best-selling...

  7. THREE The Iranun and Balangingi Slaving Voyage: Middle Passages in the Sulu Zone
    (pp. 52-71)

    A CACOPHONY OF NEW SOUNDS, sights, objects, and tastes, along with an accelerated, materially oriented life, had transformed the Sulu Zone¹ by the early nineteenth century and created a much increased demand for slave labor. Europe’s commercial intrusion in China at the end of the eighteenth century made a significant impact on the growth of the slave trade in Southeast Asia, driving a need for coolies to produce Chinese tea, which was cultivated in the mountains of Fujian Province and much sought by European traders. This stimulated a parallel demand for slaves to work in the fisheries and forests of...

  8. FOUR The Voyage Out: Peter Kolb and VOC Voyages to the Cape
    (pp. 72-91)

    ALMOST ONE MILLION PEOPLE sailed in the ships of the Verenigde Oost–Indische Compagnie (VOC, or Dutch East India Company) from the Netherlands to the East Indies between 1602 and 1795.¹ Half a million of these were not Dutch; they were mostly Germans who had signed themselves into voluntary bondage to the company for three to five years. These Germans were but a small proportion of the many millions of inhabitants of German-speaking Europe who became migrants between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A reliable recent estimate puts the number of German migrants during this period at fifteen million, or,...

  9. FIVE Bound for Botany Bay: John Martin’s Voyage to Australia
    (pp. 92-108)

    WHEN THE BLACK SAILOR John Martin appeared at the Old Bailey on July 3, 1782, justice was perfunctory. A man named Stephen Turnbull told the judge and jury how he had apprehended Martin as he attempted to steal from Trumbull’s house four overcoats, several waistcoats, and a pair of breeches, all of which Turnbull valued at sixty-eight shillings. No statement was recorded in Martin’s defense. For Justice Buller and the Middlesex jury this ought to have been a clear-cut matter: larceny of items valued at more than forty shillings was a capital offense. Under the draconian sentencing regime of the...

  10. SIX “The Slave Trade Is Merciful Compared to [This]”: Slave Traders, Convict Transportation, and the Abolitionists
    (pp. 109-128)

    IT WAS A KEY MOMENT for early Australia. The tiny European settlement perched on the edge of a huge continent had been struggling to survive since January 1788 when the eleven ships known as the First Fleet arrived to found a penal colony more than thirteen thousand miles from Britain. What they urgently needed was food, clothing, and other supplies, but the only ship that had reached them from Britain was theLady Julianawith its cargo of female convicts. Then, in June 1790, three more ships arrived in Sydney harbor. Hopes were high. It soon became clear, though, that...

  11. SEVEN Convict Passages in the Indian Ocean, c. 1790–1860
    (pp. 129-149)

    DURING THE FIRST HALF of the nineteenth century violent disorder broke out on a number of the British East India Company ships carrying convicts from India to Southeast Asia, Mauritius, and the Andaman Islands. The East India Company had established, in 1787, a penal settlement for the reception of Indian convicts in Bengkulu that was followed by more penal settlements in the Andaman Islands (1793–96), Penang (1790–1860), Malacca and Singapore (1825–60), Arakan and the Tenasserim Provinces in Burma (1828–62), and Mauritius (1815–53). Thought the first Andamans settlement ended in disaster for the British, the islands...

  12. EIGHT After Slavery: Forced Drafts of Irish and Chinese Labor in the American Civil War, or the Search for Liquid Labor
    (pp. 150-165)

    AS AN INTERLOPER WHO HAS studied how forced labor made railroads possible in the American South, I am interposing this essay in a massive and complex historical debate in which I have read widely but not deeply.¹ Historians of the period during and immediately after the American Civil War may object to my using the termforced laborto describe Irish and Chinese workers brought to the United States to fill its armies and build its railroads. But I want to suggest a somewhat different angle for viewing these migrations: how a new technology of transport, enclosed arrival points, and...

  13. NINE La Trata Amarilla: The “Yellow Trade” and the Middle Passage, 1847–1884
    (pp. 166-183)

    THE MID-NINETEENTH-CENTURY surge in lucrative and export-oriented revenue production in Cuba, Peru, and Australia prompted the recruitment of cheap labor from south China. Cuba’s main export crop was sugar, Peru’s were guano and cotton, and Australia needed workers chiefly for mineral extraction, but all these different industries were labor intensive. In response to this demand for workers, European and American entrepreneurs looked to South China as a vast untapped labor reserve. Already familiar with slave-labor systems that they had abandoned, or were pressured to terminate (as in the case of slavery in Cuba), these businessmen had no difficulty imagining Chinese...

  14. TEN “A Most Irregular Traffic”: The Oceanic Passages of the Melanesian Labor Trade
    (pp. 184-203)

    NEAR THE END OF JULY 1883, Bakala went out to fish near his home village of Denmala, in Malekula, a northern island of the Vanuatu group. As he walked along the beach at sunrise, he observed a “two masted ship anchored a short distance from Denmala; she had two boats, painted red, trying to get men; the ship had been anchored there for two nights.”¹ Bakala knew what such labor vessels represented; he had already sailed on one to work for three years as an indentured migrant laborer in Fiji. The two red boats slowly rowed toward Bakala, each propelled...

  15. ELEVEN La Traite des Jaunes: Trafficking in Women and Children across the China Sea
    (pp. 204-221)

    The port of Haiphong in Tonkin had been declared a French concession and opened to foreign commerce for only a few years in 1880 when the harbormaster boarded the English shipConquest. Hidden on the steamer he found eighteen children aged five to thirteen, all but one of them girls. Some were rolled in blankets, while others were in closed baskets covered in clothes. The harbormaster’s find was one of the earliest documented accounts of a clandestine traffic within Asia across the China Sea, although the trade can be traced for centuries. It was a phenomenon that French commentators referred...

  16. AFTERWORD: “All of It Is Now”
    (pp. 222-234)

    “IT WAS FIRST TIME I saw the sea and my first time in a ship,” Maria recalled. “It seemed very big and beautiful.” In 1998, at the age of seventeen, Maria was trafficked from Albania into sex slavery in Italy. Her passage between Durrës and Bari began in hope, in the belief that a modeling job awaited her. Slowly, however, she realized that the conditions of the ship’s journey suggested a different end point, “I thought we were near the engine—the smell of oil was very strong, also rotten food and the smell of clothes not washed in long...

  17. POSTSCRIPT: The Gun-Slave Cycle
    (pp. 235-236)
  18. Appendix
    (pp. 237-244)
    (pp. 245-248)
  20. INDEX
    (pp. 249-263)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 264-264)