The introduction explains the purpose of this volume: to explain the development of labour relations by looking at the institutions pertaining to various economic resources in society: commodities, land, labour, and capital. Rather than looking at the effect of colonial institutions on economic growth and viewing labour in a static and generic manner, we want to establish a more precise relationship between colonial institutions and changing labour relations. Therefore the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial periods are taken into account and we carefully look at changes over time in the institutions and the various forms of labour relations that prevailed, both free and unfree. The agency of the workers and their possible options to opt out of the labour system that was
established by the colonizers are explicitly included.