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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Private and Confidential: The Chinese Mine Labourers and 'Unnatural Crime'
Author:Harris, Karen L.
Periodical:South African Historical Journal
Geographic term:South Africa
contract labour
Labor and Employment
Ethnic and Race Relations
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Law, Human Rights and Violence
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02582470409464798
Abstract:Between 1904 and 1907, when repatriation began, 63,659 Chinese were imported to work as unskilled labourers on the Witwatersrand (South Africa) gold fields. By 1910, all Chinese indentured labourers had been returned to China. The impact these Chinese workers had on both South African and British political history is generally acknowledged. One aspect of the political furore surrounding the anti-Chinese lobby was the abhorrence at the homosexual activity which was held to be prevalent among the Chinese on the mines. Once it became a political scandal, it was believed to have sealed the fate of Chinese labour in the Transvaal. This paper examines the historical significance of the topic and also considers the reaction to Chinese homosexuality as yet another prejudice of the European orientalists' construction of the 'other'. At the same time, it delves into the world of this subaltern class to try and give voice to both the Chinese labourers' experience and reaction, adding another dimension to the 'homosexual debate'. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]