In the Pink of Health or the Yellow of Condition? Chinese Workers, Colonial Medicine and the Journey to South Africa, 1904–1907

in Journal of Chinese Overseas
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Abstract

This article develops recent trans-national perspectives by considering Chinese indentured labor to South Africa (1904–1907), with a spatial focus on the port of Durban and the adjacent Indian Ocean. I examine the relationship of Chinese workers with medicine as a particular form of colonial authority. Far from being part of the notoriously unregulated exchanges of “coolie-labor” characterized by high mortality rates, the South African case is unusual in its extensive state and capital regulation in the healthy transport of workers. I consider the mediating role played by colonial doctors on board the vessels in managing the steamships as “floating compounds” closely allied to the imperatives of discipline-discipline. This article thus details quasi-medical efforts at control and management of miners in the shift to industrial capitalism, and assesses where these measures failed or encountered forms of resistance from the Chinese.

In the Pink of Health or the Yellow of Condition? Chinese Workers, Colonial Medicine and the Journey to South Africa, 1904–1907

in Journal of Chinese Overseas

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