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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Durban-Bound: Chinese Miners, Colonial Medicine and the Floating Compounds of the Indian Ocean, 1904-1907
Author:MacDonald, Andrew
Periodical:Journal of Natal and Zulu History
Geographic terms:South Africa
contract labour
health policy
colonial administration
maritime transport
History and Exploration
Labor and Employment
Ethnic and Race Relations
Health and Nutrition
Abstract:This article on the scheme to import Chinese mine labour to the Witwatersrand, South Africa, from 1904-1907, begins in the middle of 1904, a month before the first group of Chinese indentured miners was due to arrive in Durban's well-policed port on chartered steamship. The Chinese were en route to the Transvaal goldfields at the behest of the Chamber of Commerce and Lord Alfred Milner's self-consciously modernist administration. The article briefly points to the politico-economic and administrative context in which the scheme took place, to deepen understanding of 'medical authority' within the labour-capitalist framework of the 'Chinese experiment'. It then considers the role of the British doctors and the spate of protective measures employed to effect a kind of medical, sanitary and dietary suzerainty over the miners on the 'floating compounds' of the ships bound to Durban, the arrival depot there and, to a lesser degree, the embarkation depots in China. A third section highlights internal contradictions and general problems in implementing the blueprint which often rendered the ships decidedly unsanitary and put the health of the Chinese at risk. A fourth section details Chinese resistance to such regimentation through objections to vaccination, food-smuggling and intoxication. Tentative attention is also paid to the question of suicide. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]