Labour Lines and Colonial Power

Labour Lines and Colonial Power

Indigenous and Pacific Islander Labour Mobility in Australia

Edited by: Victoria Stead, Jon Altman

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Today, increases of so-called ‘low-skilled’ and temporary labour migrations of Pacific Islanders to Australia occur alongside calls for Indigenous people to ‘orbit’ from remote communities in search of employment opportunities. These trends reflect the persistent neoliberalism within contemporary Australia, as well as the effects of structural dynamics within the global agriculture and resource extractive industries. They also unfold within the context of long and troubled histories of Australian colonialism, and of complexes of race, labour and mobility that reverberate through that history and into the present. The contemporary labour of Pacific Islanders in the horticultural industry has sinister historical echoes in the ‘blackbirding’ of South Sea Islanders to work on sugar plantations in New South Wales and Queensland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as in wider patterns of labour, trade and colonisation across the Pacific region. The antecedents of contemporary Indigenous labour mobility, meanwhile, include forms of unwaged and highly exploitative labouring on government settlements, missions, pastoral stations and in the pearling industry. For both Pacific Islanders and Indigenous people, though, labour mobilities past and present also include agentive and purposeful migrations, reflective of rich cultures and histories of mobility, as well as of forces that compel both movement and immobility.

Drawing together historians, anthropologists, sociologists and geographers, this book critically explores experiences of labour mobility by Indigenous peoples and Pacific Islanders, including Māori, within Australia. Locating these new expressions of labour mobility within historical patterns of movement, contributors interrogate the contours and continuities of Australian coloniality in its diverse and interconnected expressions.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Aug 2019
ANU Press
Aboriginal History Monographs
Aboriginal History
Social Sciences: Anthropology, Indigenous Studies
Australia; Pacific

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Labour Lines and Colonial Power »

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  1. Labour Lines and Colonial Power (PDF 208 KB)Victoria Stead and Jon Altman doi
  2. Intermediaries, Servants and Captives: Disentangling Indigenous Labour in D. W. Carnegie’s Exploration of the Western Australian Desert (PDF 2.4 MB)Shino Konishi doi
  3. ‘Boyd’s Blacks’: Labour and the Making of Settler Lands in Australia and the Pacific (PDF 397 KB)Tracey Banivanua Mar doi
  4. A Regulated Labour Trade across the Torres Strait: Papuan and New Guinean Domestic Workers in Australia, 1901–50 (PDF 676 KB)Lucy Davies doi
  5. New Histories but Old Patterns: Kāi Tahu in Australia (PDF 244 KB)Rachel Standfield and Michael J. Stevens doi
  6. Money Trees, Development Dreams and Colonial Legacies in Contemporary Pasifika Horticultural Labour (PDF 948 KB)Victoria Stead doi
  7. Becoming ‘Overstayers’: The Coloniality of Citizenship and the Resilience of Pacific Farm Workers (PDF 714 KB)Makiko Nishitani and Helen Lee doi
  8. Wellbeing Perspectives, Conceptualisations of Work and Labour Mobility Experiences of Pasifika Trans-Tasman Migrants in Brisbane (PDF 545 KB)Ruth (Lute) Faleolo doi
  9. Coloniality of Power and the Contours of Contemporary Sport Industries: Fijians in Australian Rugby (PDF 532 KB)Scott Mackay and Daniel Guinness doi
  10. Emergent Trends in Indigenous Labour Mobility: Flying to Work in the Nation’s Quarry (PDF 650 KB)Sarah Prout Quicke and Fiona Haslam McKenzie doi
  11. Mysterious Motions: A Genealogy of ‘Orbiting’ in Australian Indigenous Affairs (PDF 390 KB)Timothy Neale doi
  12. Of Pizza Ovens in Arnhem Land: The State Quest to Restructure Aboriginal Labour in Remotest Australia (PDF 901 KB)Jon Altman doi

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