Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Asian versus Caribbean Sugar

'The Sugar Plantation in India and Indonesia; Industrial Production, 1770–2010', the latest book of IISH staff member and professor of 'International Comparative Social History' at Amsterdam Free University Ulbe Bosma, was released by Cambridge University Press.

In this book, Ulbe Bosma details how the British and Dutch introduced the Caribbean sugar plantation model in Asia and refashioned it over time. Until abolitionist campaigns began around 1800, European markets had almost exclusively relied on Caribbean sugar produced by slave labour. Thereafter, importing Asian sugar and transferring plantation production to Asia became a serious option for the Western world.

Although initial attempts by British planters in India failed, the Dutch colonial administration was far more successful in Java, where it introduced in 1830 the 'cultuurstelsel', a system of forced cultivation that tied local peasant production to industrial manufacturing.
A century later, India adopted the Javanese model in combination with farmers’ cooperatives rather than employing coercive measures. Cooperatives did not prevent industrial sugar production from exploiting small farmers and cane cutters, however. Bosma finds that much of modern sugar production in Asia resembles the abuses of labour by the old plantation systems of the Caribbean.

Book Launch and Seminar 18 October

The Sugar Plantation in India and Indonesia; Industrial Production 1770-2010, Ulbe Bosma. Part of the 'Studies in Comparative World History' series. Cambridge University Press, September 2013. ISBN: 9781107039698
1. Producing sugar for the world
2. East Indian sugar versus slave sugar
3. Java: from cultivation to plantation conglomerate
4. Sugar, science, and technology: Java and India in the late nineteenth century
5. The era of the global sugar market, 1890–1929
6. Escaping the plantation?

12 October 2013