Volume 54 part 1 (April 2009)


Gareth Austin. Cash Crops and Freedom: Export Agriculture and the Decline of Slavery in Colonial West Africa
This article argues that the greatest economic and social transformations of the early colonial period in West Africa, the “cash-crop revolution”, and “the slow death of slavery” and debt bondage, had stronger and more varied causal connections than previously realized. The economic circumstances of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century West Africa delayed and diluted abolitionist measures. Indeed, the coercion of labour, through the exercise of property rights in people, contributed to the speed with which the cash-crop economies developed. Conversely, however, the scale and composition of cash-crop expansion did much to determine that the slave trade and pawning would be replaced by a consensual labour market. They also shaped the possibilities for peasant versus larger-scale organization of production, and the distribution of income by gender and between communities.

Christiane Reinecke. Governing Aliens in Times of Upheaval: Immigration Control and Modern State Practice in Early Twentieth-Century Britain, Compared with Prussia
In the history of immigration control, the period from the 1880s to the 1920s saw an international dynamic of growing restrictions. World War I in particular has been regarded as watershed marking the end of laissez-faire migration policy. But whether 1914 can be seen as a crucial turning point depends on the country under consideration, as well as on the chosen analytical approach. Analysing Britain’s politics of immigration control before and after the war and comparing it with its Prussian equivalent, this article discusses the shifts and continuities in the concrete administration of migration. Focusing on the changing practice of expelling foreigners, it suggests a chronology of control that does not entirely correspond with the overall political changes. By 1918, the British bureaucracy possessed elaborate means to monitor aliens, and the state increasingly impacted on the migrants’ lives. In contrast, Prussia was maintaining a tightly regulated regime already, which its authorities had established well before 1914.

Niklas Frykman. Seamen on Late Eighteenth-Century European Warships
For hundreds of thousands, the naval wars of the 1790s meant shock proletarianization at sea. Unprecedented numbers of men – many without previous experience of the sea, many of them foreign-born – were forced into warships and made to work under the threat of savage violence. Desertion rates reached previously unimaginable levels as men fled ships and navies. The greatest wave of naval mutiny in European history followed in their wake. Hundreds of crews revolted, sometimes paralyzing whole fleets in the midst of the annual fighting season. This article considers the struggles in the French, Dutch, and British navies, concluding that the key development that precipitated the sudden explosion of mutiny was the internationalization of Europe’s lower decks.