Roberts on Labor Control and Development in the British Empire

Christopher M. Roberts, Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law, has posted Labor Control, Resistance, and the Advent of "Development": Modalities of Governance in the British Empire, C. 1926-1940, which is forthcoming in the Minnesota Journal of International Law:

This article examines the manner in which a new approach to governance, that of ‘development,’ evolved within the British Empire over the course of the late 1920s and 1930s. Throughout the period in question, and in continuity with previous periods, the British governed their empire through a range of coercive measures designed to control the population and compel their labor. Measures adopted and frequently relied upon included the delegation of police powers to private authorities, restrictive and extractive tax, movement and labor laws, recourse to forced labor, increasing reliance on militarized police, and growth in the intelligence services. Over the course of the 1930s protests broke out in numerous territories, both in opposition to British governance as a whole and in support of better conditions of work. These protests were threatening both in their own right and insofar as they made the empire susceptible to criticism by other great powers. In response, British colonial authorities adopted a new policy approach, under the heading of ‘development.’ While this new approach was in part sincerely motivated, the vision of ‘development’ adopted was also profoundly limited.
--Dan Ernst



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