Geographies and Histories of Unfreedom: Indentured Labourers and Contract Workers in Mauritius

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This article contributes to debates on the continuities and divergences of different forms of labour migration over time and the degrees of unfreedom they manifest. It suggests that levels of (un)freedom can usefully be understood by analysing the various forms of control exercised over the movement of labour. More specifically, the article explores how unfreedom can be understood as a particular assemblage of spatial practices that simultaneously compel migration and enforce spatial confinement. With a focus on Mauritius, it is argued here that the coerced or manipulated nature of the transnational movements of indentured and contract migrant labour combined with their subsequent immobility on plantations and in factory compounds shapes the degree of their unfreedom. Additionally, the article extends the historical trajectory of much previous work on unfreedom by exploring the connections between the colonial regime of indentured labour and the contemporary recruitment of contract labour migrants. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1042-1057
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Development Studies
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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