Ulbe Bosma - The Sugar Plantation in India and Indonesia: Industrial Production, 1770–2010 (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

Ulbe Bosma is Senior Researcher at the IISH and since 2012 professor of 'International Comparative Social History' at the Free University of Amsterdam.

Organisator Rural and Environmental History

di 8 april 2014 12:30 tot 14:00

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The Sugar Plantation in India and Indonesia: Industrial Production, 1770–2010

Cambridge 2013

In his presention 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.

The introduction of the plantation as the business model of the day in Asia was initially a failure, because of existing property rights and market institutions. In Java, industrial sugar production could only develop after the introduction of the 'cultuurstelsel' (1830-1870), a system of forced cultivation that by blatantly disregarding existing property rights 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.